Sales People and How They Create a Competitive Advantage

While at Dreamforce last month, I attended a CEB session on insights and the challenger sale. I’ve read the book, I’ve worked with clients who are implementing it. There wasn’t anything new I learned, BUT it did remind me how important sales people are to an organization and how we make a huge difference in the success in our clients business. That is, if we sell correctly and choose to make a difference.

Customers in the B2B world don’t see the difference between two great companies, world class products or world class service as much as the see the difference between world class sales people.



There is a lot in this slide. The obvious, suggests our preconceived notions around product, brand, and price aren’t what drives loyalty but rather it’s sales people. If you dig just a little deeper there is a greater significance to this slide. What the above tells us, in the subtlest of ways is that sale people are a huge competitive differentiator. Think about this, if the single biggest way to gain customer loyalty is through the sales experience, then it seems to reason that the company with the best sales team has a competitive advantage and I don’t mean just a revenue generating advantage, I mean an actual customer advantage.

Getting a customer to part with their money is only one element of sales, a big one, but not the most valuable. Getting customers to part with their money over and over again, because the return for making an investment in your company and your sales people is so high –well, that’s an entirely differently level of selling.

I wonder how many sales leaders build and manage their sales teams with an eye on creating a competitive advantage. I can tell you, I’ve never heard an analyst call where the sales team was listed as an advantage in the market place. I’m pretty confident that there are a number of companies who are leading the pack and winning customer loyalty because of their sales team and I’m sure they are happy to be flying under the radar.

What about your sales organization? Have you consciously built a sales team with a competitive advantage? Is your sale team better than your competitions at creating customer loyalty? Can they do the above better than anybody? How do you know? If your using revenue as a metric, your using the wrong measuring stick. You might want to measure losses to the competition, defections to the competition. Is the competition trying to steal your sales people? Does the client use you or your competition to highlight best of breed selling? The key is to find ways to measure your sales teams effectiveness with your customers AND against your competition.

Sales teams are competitive differentiators if you let them be and if you build them to be. Be deliberate, don’t keep asking product for more competitive advantages, build your own with your sales team.