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Some developments in sales during the last years require rethinking processes. This rethinking process is needed because classic sales, as we know and care for, are now condemned to extinction. The slowly dying of the old sales paradigm has consequences for the entire company.

 

Rethinking process 1: all company structures are customer-centric now

 

The digitalisation and the need to provide customers with a positive experience along their whole journey requires all business units working together. In the best case, this should happen every time.

Whether management, research & development, finance, marketing, communication, sales, HR, or controlling: the shaping of positive customer experiences is all that counts. This corporate goal should be a top priority for all managers and employees.

Rethinking process 2: let sales die

 
Sales is dead! Long live to sales! However, it is a new kind of sales, different than the one we know. Sales 4.0 does not mean primarily “to sell”. It means “hybrid sales”: an online and offline positive customer experience.

One thing is sure: the traditional sales paradigm is out. Ultimately everyone in the company should contribute to providing customers with exciting added value.

The first step in this direction: sales and services growing together. Service people will take advantage of their channel to the client. An excellent service brings a delighted customer in line for cross-selling and up-selling. Moreover, salespeople should see themselves as intermediaries for additional services.

Sales 4.0: The boundaries between departments are becoming increasingly blurred: executives observe hybrid developments at all levels. The fact that sales will die is less of a threat, but a chance for the future. If the new is to emerge, the old must die.

Rethinking process 3: Silos and divisions among departments must be broken down

 
For the benefit of the customer, it is unavoidable to merge company departments processes. This change all too often clashes with silo thinking, rigid hierarchies, task assignments and departments divisions. Every employee, team, department; the whole company, must ask the question: “What contribution do our activities bring to the absolute customer satisfaction?”

However, the employee level alone cannot solve the silo-thinking challenge. The solution to this problem must evolve more deeply in the future, consisting of the gradual dissolution of the departments themselves.

Already the word “department” is programmed. For a department (or division) is separated and divided from another one. Nonetheless, the corporate parts do not fit into one big “whole”, and the organisational structure governs the thinking. The departments, unintentionally, build unbridgeable gaps.

However, successful managers do not stop on the words. Above everything, it is necessary to derive all department goals from the overall corporate objective consistently. Besides, and again, the dissolution of the departments is not a threat, but an opportunity.

Rethinking process 4: The importance of corporate culture rises

 
Departmental breakdown, organisational restructuring, hybrid processes. The standard glue holding everything together is organisational culture. It is the guide and fixed star that provides orientation and support, motivating all executives and employees to achieve the common goal of customer satisfaction. Corporate culture, as a tricky topic, should undergo a renaissance.

This new beginning must happen at the top of the organisation’s agenda, next to, or even above operational business.

Companies can effectively master the complex change processes triggered by Sales 4.0 if they live cooperation, openness and transparency on all levels. Managers should anchor these aspects in their corporate culture.

Rethinking process 5: Potential change must be supported at any price

 

When changes such as those described above occur, persistence and doubts arise. No wonder. People develop fear in the face of massive change. It is imperative to strengthen and support the change forces, especially in sales. Sales is where the developments have started. Here the managers and employees are first and foremost affected.

Therefore, companies should develop the concerned employees should into stakeholders: Special Change Agents ready to explain to the company the necessity and the meaningfulness of the change processes, together with the upcoming opportunities. There will be thus fewer change opponents and more change advocates.

Rethinking process 6: The hybridity of sales requires new skills

 

Sales 4.0 requires new skills from sales leaders and collaborators, along with a new company attitude to sales. Sales should be first “hybridised” and then dissolved. “Hybridism” means (in agriculture) a mixed form of two previously separate systems. It vividly describes what lays ahead for the traditional sales, beginning with the merger of service and sales, continuing in the dissolution of the company departments.

The related developments will influence all several areas, for example, training and further staff development, employee selection and new sales appointments. The upheavals in sales give the slogans “lifelong learning” and “learning organisation” a whole new dynamic and dimension.

Rethinking process 7: Test everything

 

In no company can these rethinking processes start today and be implemented tomorrow.

Sales 4.0 is a lean process that is made up of numerous individual steps and will never be completed, and will always require new initial decisions.

When do you begin Sales 4.0?

 

Do you have any further questions on Sales 4.0? We are happy to help!

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Translated with permission from Original in German | Vertriebszeitung on 25. August 2016 – Klaus Steven