The Triangle of Value for Managing a Sales Team

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TTM associates Article


Sales managers play an important role in the successes and failures of organisations as they are responsible for not only selling and delivering desired results, but also maintaining and improving relationships with the clients. One of the biggest challenges sales managers face is nurturing a customer intimate mind set among their team, which can only be achieved by simultaneously creating and maintaining value for three major stakeholders: customers, shareholders and team members.

TTM associates has developed a tool that can help managers achieve a customer intimate culture in any organisation, as in the image below. The triangle of value is a necessary tool for every manager aspiring to add value to the sales team.

Adding Value to Team Members

Helping employees set and reach goals is a critical part of every manager’s job. Employees want to see their work contribute to larger corporate objectives, and setting the right targets makes this connection explicit for them, and their manager. People focused managers might be loved by their subordinates, but results might not be achieved. Whereas technical experts who focus only on results and tasks will achieve short-term results yet demoralise workforce. Balancing management styles can lead to optimal working environment and results!

According to John Adair’s Action-Centred Leadership, managers need to be able to balance the needs from each of these three elements: team, task and individual. An effective manager is one who keeps all three in balance by attending to all three at the same time. If any one element is ignored, the others are unlikely to succeed.

John Adair gave the following examples:

To achieve a goal or task, managers need to identify objectives, processes, resources and stakeholders, create a strategic plan including deliverables, timelines and assigned responsibilities and monitor as well as maintain overall performance against plan.

To manage a team or group, managers have to create a collective sense of purpose, establish and agree on desired performance and behaviour, monitor and maintain discipline as well as anticipate and resolve any group conflict.

To manage individuals, managers must not forget that their team is made up of individuals, so they must give the appropriate attention, support and recognition to each team member.

Adding Value to Customers

In a world where competitors’ prices, products and features are continuously changing, customers look for products that give them the best value for their money. This is why the Value Map (image below) is an invaluable tool for businesses to track how customers perceive their products, as well as see how competitive their products are. Unfortunately, the average B2B sales person is still more comfortable talking about their products than discussing business value, and the average B2B buyer regards a sales person’s business knowledge far more valuable than their ability to regurgitate product features and benefits. This mismatch has led to profound consequences, such as the average 87% revenues in complex B2B sales environments are being generated by only 13% of the sales population. Top performing sales organisations have managed to bridge these gaps by systematically creating unique value for their customers through a value-based, customer driven sales approach.

The first principle of value-based selling is to focus on the value of solving the problem the potential account has identified. If the account cannot be clear about the costs and consequences of the problem and the value of solving it, their chances of getting any valuable solution are remote. Secondly, Value-based selling requires getting very specific about the value offered to each account. Businesses need to be able to promote personal or tailored value positions by selectively identifying and highlighting the perceived benefits that are most relevant to their accounts.

Finally, managers need to clearly explain how to deliver unique and relevant value to every member of the decision-making team i.e. the stakeholders. Often managers understand the fact that complex B2B buying decisions inevitably involves multiple stakeholders, yet they don’t always take all stakeholders into account which results in incorrect and misleading information. In “The Challenger Customer” a book based on a CEB survey of 3,000 customer stakeholders involved in B2B purchases, estimated that an average of 5.4 stakeholders are actively involved in the typical high-value buying decision process and pointed out that the number can easily rise into double figures. In many B2B sales, you have to convince three key stakeholder groups: the core buying decision makers, the negotiating decision makers, and the final approval decision-making group.

Adding Value to Shareholders

If the opportunity is given, shareholders very often have value to add, doors to open and various contributions to make. The way managers can give them the opportunity is through regular updates on key metrics and business progresses against milestones, targets and sales pipelines.

There’s constant pressure to achieve performance targets, to reach higher performance levels, and to ensure that people’s work supports and furthers the organisation’s goals. Managers who add value to shareholders make sure that the goals that are set within their team are efficient and aligned with the department’s strategy, which in turn is aligned with the overall strategy of the organisation. This is the critical link between employee performance and organisational goals.

Final Thoughts

In today’s consensus-driven purchase process where divergent views and dysfunction reign, it is important for managers to understand the various types of customer-connected behaviours and strategies that need to be followed and developed, in order to deliver customer value appropriately. For team members, the importance lies in the fact that they need to be appropriately and methodically equipped with the right skills, behaviours and knowledge in order to be able to perform their duties towards customers effectively. This will boost their ability to build and maintain the appropriate relationships needed with all major stakeholders and to develop the brand’s credibility in customers’ eyes.

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TTM associates have developed multiple solutions for managers in sales and customer management based on the value-concept which is customer driven and ensures the delivery of optimum ROI on commercial efforts. Feel free to read more about the B2B sales solutions in the value connect book.