Customer Strategy Foresight

Strategy&'s perspective on how to create essential advantage in customer strategy.

March, 2016

Getting your sales force right

The way companies locate prospects, sell products and services, and relate to their customers is rapidly changing. The transformation is due in large part to technologies such as digitization, big data, and advanced analytics. Yet while most businesses have embraced these technologies, too few have updated their sales approaches to match.

Businesses have a major opportunity to optimize their sales forces and supporting functions to meet this new reality. In this issue of Customer Strategy Foresight, we highlight three articles that can help set companies on the path toward doing just that.

The first article discusses what the authors call the "next-generation sales force." Armed with data to produce insights and adapt to changes in real time, this new, analytical approach to sales force planning is crucial for competing in the marketplace.

Next, we share how companies can bolster sales enablement to maximize growth. Sales enablement refers to the collection of functions that generate analytics and customer insights, develop sales strategies and plans, build capabilities and ensure efficient sales operations. It is a critical piece of the sales puzzle — but is often overlooked.

Finally, we turn to the service side of business. A convergence of trends — notably greater social connectivity — has made what were once personal customer service interactions a highly public matter. Service teams must ensure these interactions are an extension of their company’s brand — or risk damage to their reputations.

None of these transitions will be easy. Each must be accompanied by strong leadership and careful change management. But the time has come for companies to adapt — or risk leaving significant value behind.

Featured Foresights

The next-generation sales force
Strategy& viewpoint
Companies have more real-time, customized information about their customers than ever before. But information is no longer a differentiator. Smart use of that information, however, can be. To compete in an increasingly data-driven landscape, businesses must rethink their sales operations. They must empower a "next-generation sales force" with precise data and the ability to make decisions fast.
The new sales enablement
Strategy& viewpoint
Sales representatives are now highly mobile, equipped with immense amounts of data and insights about their customers. Support staff are also in a position to deliver far more; they can be full partners in the sales effort, capable of enabling profitable growth.
Service & Engagement
Historically, at many companies, customer service has taken a backseat to selling products. But today's technology is moving service from the back office to the decision-making table. Customer service is no longer something companies can offer as an afterthought. Rather, it has become a key component of how customers perceive and respond to brands. This has both positive and negative implications, allowing customers to become brand champions — as well as broadcast their discontent to a wide audience.

Customer Strategy Foresight archive

December, 2016
The ways companies interact and engage with their customers today is vastly different from how they did so in years past.