Are You Overlooking This Right-Under-Your-Nose Strategy for Improving Sales Performance?


Why you should import the methods, tools and tactics used in other industries to your company.

Take a moment to consider your sales reps and managers. If they're like most members of a sales team, more than 80 percent of them have spent the majority of their careers in the same industry sector. That has both a positive and negative impact for organizations trying to improve sales performance. On the positive side, your teams bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the job. On the negative side, that experience and knowledge is almost identical to teams in your competitive set. In today’s dog-eat-dog business world, that leaves organizations that are looking for creative ways to expand sales opportunities at the mercy of their talent pools.

One short-term solution for breaking out of the talent trap is to hire new salespeople who bring their own client connections and competitive intelligence. But there’s another strategy to consider that may have a longer-lasting impact: a cross-industry skills import.

Endless Possibilities

A cross-industry skills import involves importing the best practices, tools and tactics used in other industry sectors that have similar sales cycles as yours. In this way, you introduce new thinking to your sales teams from non-competitive sources.

Let's say you're a digital advertiser. Looking at how account reviews are handled in the engineering industry can be a real eye-opener for your accounts review team. That's because engineering firms historically rely on a thorough and robust review process in order to stand out from their rivals. Like a digital advertising agency, they sell services, not physical products.

Almost any sector in any industry other than yours is a potential source of enlightenment. From marketing to human resources to review process, the possibilities are endless.

Importing KAM Features

To better understand the value of a cross-industry skills import, consider the following two charts. They show dimensions of the Key Account Management (KAM) sector that might be imported into three different industries: digital advertising, professional services, and B2B equipment rental. Within each industry is a star rating indicating the relative value of the KAM dimensions to that industry. The more stars an industry has, the more it can gain from the import.



The following three charts show some basic features of the sales cycle within the three industries. Companies in other industries with a similar sales cycle can identify common features and import best practices into their businesses.




Different Sales Cycles

Clearly, there are multiple industries that stand to benefit from a cross-industry skills import. Yet it's also possible to improve sales opportunities by importing skills from industries with sales cycles different from yours.

As with any strategy, there’s no rushing the process. The good news is, importing new skills into your own sales department will not only reduce your reliance on talent, but it can help you gain more control over revenue.

© Copyright 2018. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, Inc., its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.

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