Unprecedented changes in the retail and customer landscapes are creating big challenges for Sales teams. Who would have thought at the turn of the century that by 2014 the world’s largest retailer would have no physical stores? Whatever industry you are in the customer landscape and expectations are changing fast.

From pricing competitiveness to cost optimisation, omniformat strategies to store utilisation -  everything is being turned on its head in the pursuit of shopper loyalty and growth. In Pharma, there is growing complexity in the web of stakeholders that Sales teams need to work with to secure product availability and drive sales.

Given the scale of these changes, sales teams are having to accelerate capability building in key areas such as route to market, trading terms, eCommerce strategy, ways of working with customers, data analytics, salesforce effectiveness and the use of technology to drive efficiencies.

In the work we are doing with clients there are a number of broad trends we are seeing among those looking to lift their Sales capabilities to new heights:

  • Redefining a customer centred-purpose and strategy for the function. For example, one client, by identifying the role the Sales organisation plays in delivering the company’s new consumer-centred vision, has created direction and momentum behind a drive for change
  • Identifying and building the new critical capabilities required to achieve their strategic goals, across organisation, people, process, skills and leadership. For example, another client is developing a methodology to benchmark their country sales organisation against world class standards and developing improvement plans
  • Identifying new ways to engage more effectively with customers.  For example, we have clients who are re-appraising their customer segmentation and re-examining their approach to Joint Business Planning to find better returns from engagement
  • Creating customer centred strategies and plans that are aligned across sales and marketingAs we discussed in last week’s blog, many clients are recognising the need to better connect their strategy and planning from Brand to Channel to Customer in order to drive better sales and returns
  • Finding better approaches to execute plans more effectivelyFor example, re-evaluating their field sales strategy to drive greater effectiveness and efficiencies by looking territory planning, the use of technology and the role of the Sales Rep

Aside from the impact of digital on the customer landscape and how Sales teams need to work externally, it is also forcing companies to look at how to break down traditional functional silos and join up the way Marketing and Sales work more effectively in order to deliver a better customer and consumer experience – the topic of our previous blog.

Faced with these extraordinary external changes and the significant impact they are having on sales strategies and ways of working, has there ever been a tougher time for Sales teams? And are they doing enough to raise their game to deal with those challenges?

Let us know what you think; join the conversation @brandlearning.

This post is by Martin Adkins, Customer Development Director at Brand Learning