To Sell Now, How Much Better Do You Have To Be?

Business Week’s Matthew Boyle has a post titled The Changing Nature of Sales on a new Watson Wyatt poll of Sales Executives. The money quote:

While historically sales teams have largely been assessed on “pure sales” metrics like revenue and volume, many companies are now taking the opportunity to shift to a more sophisticated set of measures that includes customer profitability, customer retention, and lead conversion rates. Companies are also shifting their focus to assess whether each and every customer is worth the risk.

How Much Better?

Historically, sales has led the charge for client acquisition, top-line growth, and sometimes bottom-line growth. But as sales continues to grow up and take it’s rightful place in business, how much better do you have to be?

How much better do you have to be to understand and control individual customer profitability? How much better do you have to be to orchestrate the team that is going to ensure you retain the customers you and your company need to succeed in the future? How much better do you have to be to be compensated on lead conversion rates while also being compensated on the conflicting metric of individual customer profitability?

And remember, you are still going to be responsible for prospecting, acquiring new clients, top-line growth and all that you have been charged with before now.

The Answer

To succeed in sales now, you are going to have to be a Hell of a lot better.

There is no question that the responsibilities are shifting to front line sales, especially in business-to-business sales. This isn’t your daddy’s sales job; he wouldn’t recognize it. You’d better get better, and you’d better get better fast.

Embrace the change, acquire the skill sets, take on the responsibilities, and collect the rewards that come with it.



  • Lorin Bristow

    Great post, and a wake up call for everyone of us in sales. One of the things we can do to improve is take an honest look at our personal sales strengths and weaknesses. “Honest” is difficult to do on our own.

    My organization is developing an online sales assessment tool to help do this. We are in the first phase and invite pro salespeople of all experience levels to participate. They will receive the aggregate results of the study once completed, and individual “strength & weakness” reports down the road at no cost.

    Go to:

  • Business Communication

    Also, we must not bury our heads in our profession. We must look for problems that need solving. Bad news can be good news for a person trying to persuade another that now is the moment.

  • celius

    It would be interesting to see a follow up to this article with some more in depth information around what skill sets is needed to be a successful sales person in 2010.