Which Industries Need the Most Help to Get Sales to the Next Level?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 @ 13:08 PM

lumberThe lumber and building products industry is notorious for having weak salespeople (compared with the population of salespeople in all industries)who call on distributors and retail lumber yards and take orders.  They could be far more effective, much more efficient and experience exponentially better results.

The software industry is notorious for having demo-crazy and technically savvy, but weak, salespeople who hunt for new business, generate binders full of proposals and convert a small percentage of them.  They too could be far more effective, much more efficient and experience exponentially better results.

Sounds pretty much the same for both groups, right?

Not really.

Software industry executives want help, need to improve, must improve their conversion ratios and increase sales.  They call and write often asking for help.  Why?  Their business is changing - rapidly - by the day.  TheStreet.com published this article, The Digital Skeptic - Software Sales are Over. We're All Concierges Now.  (Thanks to Ken Leeser for sending me the link!)  Check out this quote from the article:

Daniel Saks, co-CEO of AppDirect, a San Francisco Web business app installation and management platform, told me it is now sober professionalism that is the deciding factor for which business software app succeeds. "What we are seeing is companies that work through a traditional sales channel and act like a real business are the ones that work," Saks said. "Throwing your app up and hoping folks just figure it out is not getting it done." None of which should surprise Pyle. "If you're doing anything the way you did it even a few years ago," he said, "it gets very tough, fast." "It's like I said. What got you here is not going to get you there."

On the other hand, lumber industry executives don't believe that they need help and those who acknowledge it - even a little bit - believe that somehow they can solve their sales problems in-house.  They never call or write asking for help.  Why?  Their business is exactly the same as it used to be - it's old school and static - except that revenues aren't nearly as strong as they were prior to the economic crisis of 2008.

My Point: The more your business or industry has remained the same, the more you need to stand-out, differentiate, take business away from incumbents and competitors, find ways to compete other than lowering your prices, and grow organically, rather than via costly acquisitions.  You can accomplish that with a sound sales strategy, strong sales leadership, and competent, professional salespeople.  But that's quite different from what most companies in static industries have in place.  You would think that after surviving the past 5 years, the lumber executives would be waiting in line for some professional sales help, but they fancy themselves as experts in this area.  Where did they get that idea?

It doesn't really matter what you sell, to whom you sell it, or how you are organized.  In order to grow revenues and profits, you must be able to outsell everyone else.  Not sometimes.  Not only when it's easy.  Not only when you have the best prices.  Always.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, sales best practices, lumber sales, software sales, sales consulting and training

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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