Executive Briefings

Selling to Supply Chain Executives: The 'Old Boys Network' No Longer

A top sales executive at a leading supply chain software company said recently that after neglecting sales training for some time, the company is now investing in this area again. Why? Here are some paraphrased comments:

The buying audience today is very different than years ago, and much more educated. Many of the people we're selling to today [executives in large multinational companies] can write books on supply chain management. We can't just go in and tell them something they already know, or maybe even know better than us. These executives want to keep "pushing the envelope" in supply chain management, so they're looking for ideas and solutions to help them get there.

Salespeople need a different set of skills to succeed today. Relationships alone are no longer sufficient; a salesperson now has to earn the trust and respect of the executives they are meeting with. This means they have to contribute more knowledge to the conversation, instead of just setting up meetings and dinner reservations.

The days of PowerPoint selling are over. You now have to demonstrate your true capabilities by executing very detailed scripted demos. Companies are buying software to implement, not to sit on a shelf [which happened many times in the past].

The "Old Boys Network" is no longer. We're seeing a lot more women in leadership roles, for example, and greater diversity [ethnic, cultural, geographic] in the makeup of supply chain teams.

But the knowledge bar has been raised mostly at large, multinational companies. Many small and mid-sized companies, unfortunately, are still relatively low on the supply chain education and sophistication curve. This applies to many third-party logistics providers too.

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A top sales executive at a leading supply chain software company said recently that after neglecting sales training for some time, the company is now investing in this area again. Why? Here are some paraphrased comments:

The buying audience today is very different than years ago, and much more educated. Many of the people we're selling to today [executives in large multinational companies] can write books on supply chain management. We can't just go in and tell them something they already know, or maybe even know better than us. These executives want to keep "pushing the envelope" in supply chain management, so they're looking for ideas and solutions to help them get there.

Salespeople need a different set of skills to succeed today. Relationships alone are no longer sufficient; a salesperson now has to earn the trust and respect of the executives they are meeting with. This means they have to contribute more knowledge to the conversation, instead of just setting up meetings and dinner reservations.

The days of PowerPoint selling are over. You now have to demonstrate your true capabilities by executing very detailed scripted demos. Companies are buying software to implement, not to sit on a shelf [which happened many times in the past].

The "Old Boys Network" is no longer. We're seeing a lot more women in leadership roles, for example, and greater diversity [ethnic, cultural, geographic] in the makeup of supply chain teams.

But the knowledge bar has been raised mostly at large, multinational companies. Many small and mid-sized companies, unfortunately, are still relatively low on the supply chain education and sophistication curve. This applies to many third-party logistics providers too.

Read Full Article