Each week The Sales Way will be interviewing a thought leader from The Sales Enablement industry on how they recommend organisations deliver more effective sales and business development results. This week, The Sales Way speaks to Neil Fletcher of Arrosam Ltd (http://arrosam.co.uk/) on his views on the future of the sales enablement industry.
As part of The Sales Way’s interview series with influential thought leaders in the Sales Enablement space, this week we will be interviewing Neil Fletcher from Arrosam, a sales and marketing consultancy focused on clients in the Science, Engineering and Technology sectors. With a background in selling roles for a range of large and small companies, Neil set up Arrosam to help technical sectors sell and market themselves more effectively whilst becoming more accurate in pipeline management activities.
Please can you tell us a little bit about how you came to work in the world of sales enablement, and what makes sales enablement such a special sector to work in?
In a sales career spanning 27 years encompassing internal, external and international sales positions, I learned the hard way about what works and what doesn’t. I reached the point in my life where I wanted to share this expertise but had no likely candidates in the company of middle-aged men in which I worked at the time. The obvious thing to do was start working for myself and that’s how Arrosam came into being.
What I love most about the sales enablement sector is it’s holistic approach. It breaks down the barriers between different functions within a company and encourages inter-departmental cooperation for the betterment of the whole company, not one department at the expense of another.
How do you think sales enablement (and industry approaches to sales enablement, training and techniques) has changed over the past twenty years?
The biggest change is the recognition of the fact that buying and selling are intimately linked and that selling processes should mirror and match buying processes in order to succeed.
Allied to this is the loss of information asymmetry. By this I mean that the seller is no longer the only route to finding out about the product or service under consideration. A good sales enablement programme will acknowledge this and provide plenty of information in multiple formats for use by both the seller and the buyer.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the broader training world has caught up with these ideas so there are plenty of people still banging on about ‘the seller taking control’, ‘the 17 best closes of all time’ and the like. Modern selling should be a collaborative process, not a combative one.
With so many apps and software tools being created to aid sales people in their selling efforts, what real impact do you think these tools and apps will have on how sales people sell?
It’s easy to forget that ‘a fool with a tool is still a fool’. I’m old enough to remember when Microsoft PowerPoint first launched. What a difference that was going to make – out with old-fashioned overhead projectors and flipcharts on easels and in with the brave new world.
How many really bad PowerPoint presentations have you endured? Great tool, badly used!
There is a real danger in getting caught up in ‘shiny new toy’ syndrome and using apps or software that don’t add anything to the process of selling. I’m sure that there are some extremely useful new tools out there but only time will tell which are the great, genuinely useful, ones.
At its heart, sales is a human-to-human process. Any tool, new or old, should enhance that interaction and not detract or distract from it.
Many industry analysts are talking about the ‘decline of the salesperson’. What role do you think sales people will have in the future, in order to stay relevant?
Salespeople are almost unique in that they get to peer into many, many different businesses and discover what works and what doesn’t.
The relevant ones take this information and share it across sector boundaries. They use their experience to tell their customers something they didn’t know; they stand alongside them as equals in the relationship by offering knowledge freely but also by challenging assumptions through offering an alternative perspective. Part of a salespersons role has always been as an educator. I don’t see this changing any time soon.
That said, some sales roles will decline. If you are selling a commodity product, a good e-commerce website can do just the same as you and generally more cheaply. If this wasn’t the case, internet shopping wouldn’t be the phenomenon it has become.
What key piece of advice would you give to sales managers who are looking to improve their team’s sales results or set up a sales enablement program. Where should they start?
Understand how and why you win orders. This shows you what success looks like and how to achieve it. Then understand how and why you lose orders. What’s the difference between the two? This will reveal areas under your control which you can and should improve and areas outside your control which you cannot. Sharpen up your qualification processes so you don’t try to compete in areas in which you can’t win.
About Arrosam Ltd
Arrosam is a business development consultancy that uses its industry knowledge to work with companies in the science, engineering and technology sectors. The focus is on improving sales and marketing processes so that you don’t waste time and money chasing prospects who will never order from you. Find out more about Arrosam at (http://arrosam.co.uk/).