Assessing the Competition: Sales vs Production
Anastasia Ksenofontova shares an article on the competition between sales and production teams and how consulting partners can combine the competencies of both departments.
Salespeople sell what they know rather than what the clients need. They use personal connections rather than industrial or functional competencies to close the deals. Salespeople do not fully understand the products they are selling. On the other hand, production or service delivery cannot provide what the salespeople have promised. Technicians do not know how to talk to customers. The production/service delivery teams are siloed and hardly involved in sales.
Does this sound familiar? The more complex and technologically advanced the products and services you sell, the more significant the gap between the two functions, especially in the B2B environment. However, there are some exceptions. Management consulting is one of those exceptions.
Consulting partners manage the implementation of the projects they sell. Any false promises made in the sales process will become a headache for that same partner during execution.
How do consulting partners combine these competencies?
Most salespeople (often called partners) come from service delivery or “production.” They started their careers as consultants who worked on projects. Compare this to other B2B industries, like high-tech, where sales and production career paths are clearly separated. Professionals rarely rotate between the two functions. This rigid separation makes it difficult for people to understand both parts.
Service providers are involved in the sales process early in their careers in the consulting profession. In other B2B industries, this is not common. For example, asking a technical specialist to help with sales in the high-tech industry is often seen as underutilizing their competence. It can even be perceived as shameful for the techies involved in sales. This approach leads to salespeople over-promising. As a result, the technical specialists will struggle to implement what the sales team has sold without sufficient technical expertise. Additionally, new “breakthrough solutions” are not sold as the solution is outside the comfort zone of the salespeople.
In consulting, although not ideal, there is a culture of interaction between experts. Most solutions are at the intersection of expertise, and a whole group of expert partners gets involved in the sale. This helps break down “siloes” and allows the team to offer a more complex solution. Team KPIs reinforce this behavior. Conversely, in many other B2B industries, KPIs are specific to each product category. This hinders the sale of complex, multi-product solutions.
Key points include:
- Communication breakdown
- Breaking down silos
- Building organizational structure and processes
Read the full article, Who leads: sales or production? Spoiler: neither of them, on Linkedin.