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Growing Sales in the Ambiguous Environment

What skills must salespeople possess to excel in the VUCA market?

I can’t remember living in a more uncertain world. Technology is evolving rapidly. It is changing the way that consumers think and act, and revolutionizing the way that organizations do business. Your organizational culture shapes behaviors in the sales context, but is this enough to drive sales in the VUCA market?

In this article, you’ll learn about the skills needed by salespeople throughout the organizational buying process.

What is the VUCA market?

VUCA is an acronym that aptly describes the modern market place: Volatile; Uncertain; Complex; Ambiguous.

Volatile: the market is evolving rapidly

Salespeople and sales processes must be agile. Flexibility is needed, adapting approach and offering to the needs of the prospect. Salespeople must hone their information gathering skills, and organizations must be prepared for buyers to change their priorities during the buying decision process.

Uncertain: organizations are not sure what will happen next

Sales teams must help prospects to understand the direction of the market. They must be good information gatherers, and adept at analysing data. This data must then be presented in a way that takes command of customers with a compelling sales narrative.

Complex: selling into a global market

With businesses requiring global solutions, your product and service will need to meet complexities of different cultures, regulations, and market customs. Your salespeople must adapt their natural communication style to an increasing range of contacts along the decision-making curve. They will avoid the common pitfalls of sales with emotional intelligence training.

Ambiguity: stepping into the unknown

Dealing with organizations who are not sure of the future requires a broader and more flexible response. Solutions should be agile and enabled to adapt to changing needs. Customers must be instilled with a sense of trust in the salesperson and their organization.

This may require a subtler milestone approach, which encourages the building of trust and empowers the salesperson to lead the customer through a complex marketplace where nothing is certain.

The 8 stages of the organizational buying decision process

There are eight stages in the organizational buying decision process:

1.     Problem recognition

When a problem is identified and the need to buy goods or services to solve it is accepted.

2.     Needs are described

When the general characteristics of the goods or services needed are overviewed.

3.     Product of service needs are specified

Using the general characteristics as a framework, detailed specifications are drawn up.

4.     Search for a supplier

The organization begins the search for a partner/vendor that can deliver the solution.

5.     Proposals requested

The organization reduces its list of potential vendors, and then requests proposals from those remaining.

6.     Selection of the vendor

The vendor is selected according to the organization’s criteria. It may negotiate different terms before making a final decision.

7.     Order confirmation

The order of goods or services is confirmed, with final details negotiated. These may include specifications, quantities, maintenance agreements, delivery times, and so on.

8.     Review

At this final stage, products and services are reviewed, and feedback is given and acted upon. This is the stage where decisions are made to continue, modify, or cease. It is essential that the salesperson has built good relationships with the customer by this stage. Without this, the potential for new and repeat business will be severely reduced.

Salespeople must be multiskilled and with high emotional intelligence

Unlike selling to a consumer, selling to organizations is likely to encounter several decision-makers at each stage of the process outlined above. Salespeople will need to understand how these people think, react, and operate to navigate the organizational buying decision process successfully. A high level of emotional intelligence is an imperative in the 21st century sales environment.

As the salesperson guides an organization through the various stages, they will need to employ a wide range of complimentary skills. These include:

  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Anticipation
  • Problem-solving
  • Time management
  • People management

The earlier the salesperson is onboarded in the organizational buying decision process, the more likely he or she is to successfully conclude the sale. Contact us today, and discover how we could help salespeople understand their own cultural biases and embed the new behaviors needed to boost sales revenues in the VUCA market.

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