Prof. Willem Verbeke – Hoogleraar Sales & Account Management – Erasmus Universiteit
The term mind-set has been used quite frequently by many people but its meaning is in many ways not clear. So, let’s better define what is meant by a mind-set! A mind-set is a perspective which a group of people has generated based on their experience and insights. This perspective in turn, if adopted by a group of people, guides people’s perceptions and actions which makes them to attend to different aspects in their social and business environment. When people engage in these practices over a longer period of time they build capabilities: they notice new distinctions within the market, understand what new trends are happening.
Let’s take two different mind-sets and see if they make any difference.
a) Mind-set 1: sales men should sell goods to companies so they need to better manage their pipeline so that their customer portfolio grows sufficiently. Better sales men are those who keep track of their CRM system and manage their pipeline better.
b) Mind-set 2: “Companies do not buy but people do.” So sales men ought to meet these people, who have conflicting interests. Via conversations the sales person unites them so that they accept the offer more quickly.
So if a manager is talking about the first mind-set, he motivates his sales people to think about the portfolio of customers. However, they might not give enough attention to the crucial players in the customer’s company. That are the people within the customer’s company who have conflicting interests. Perhaps these people constantly think about their pipeline but they do not see that you ought to go out there and meet those people who have conflicting interests, and bring them together.
In the second case, if a manager constantly talks about the fact that it’s the people in the customer’s company who do the actually buying, he motivates his sales people to go out there and talk to people for instance during network events. This helps them to get an appointment at their firm.
Needless to say that as time goes by, these sales people acquire different capabilities: in the first case the sales person develops analytical skills but in the second case sales people probably become more street smart. Street smart people become known in the business community and people want to associate with them, so they develop a self reinforcing circle.