This piece exposes you to a fact you have always known. The real reason you win those large, complex deals against fierce competitors is simply because your sales team is able to go win them for you.
The sales team knows their markets, the travails the prospect puts you through, and despite all the machinations of your competitors, the team navigates your deal past the finish line. For your star sales rep, the difference between winning and losing consistently is the knowledge on how to execute at the crunch – how to harness the resources available at his/her disposal, how to traverse the account minefield, and above all, having that keen pulse of competitor moves, and how to counter them.
In every company, there is enormous knowledge about products, customers, and processes that are known only to certain and different sets of employees. This is knowledge, nay wisdom, that is gleaned over years of experience, exposed to every wiggle and niggle of the sales motion.
It often involves knowledge that can significantly contribute in favor of the organization, be it related to the quality of the product or service or maintaining customer relationships. Some of your Farmers and account managers have a long-term rapport established with specific clients or customers. They have a deep understanding of the political climate, the influencers, the budget owners, the power centers. Your best Farmers know exactly how to run a complex deal cycle, exactly which gates to cross, which resources and investments are most likely to pay off; and – all of which is difficult to transfer as knowledge.
All of it sums up to what is called tribal knowledge. Your real competitive advantage in translating your products and services to deals, customers, revenue and profits; a competitive advantage that is built over time and is incredibly hard to replace if the valued employee leaves the organization.
Sales rep knows through their experiences in past deals as to how future deals would behave. It is because they gain a lot of customer and competitor insights through daily activities. They understand the nature of deal construct, account behavior, and competitor actions and accordingly use this best judgment and accumulated knowledge in their favor and these become the undocumented “sales strategies and tactics” which no one but the sales rep knows. This intrinsic knowledge that any person holds is an intangible asset and a major source of competitive advantage for organizations. It is also a driving force behind innovation – on how best to drive market share, revenue growth, and profitability in an increasingly complex sales environment.
Tribal knowledge residing within the sales team is a catalyst to sustainable, long-term growth; it needs to be nourished, encouraged, and harnessed. Organizations need to be more diligent about capturing this information and making it readily available to all of the rank and file – to leverage, deploy and magnify.
Medha Sharma | Anand Sri Ganesh