A friend tells a story that may seem familiar to many of us. Several years ago—before GPS systems were commonplace–he was traveling by car with one of his sales representatives to visit an important customer. Although our friend had been to the account on numerous occasions, it had been several years and the landscape had changed. He was trying to read street signs and became alarmed to find that his vision was blurred. When he returned home he hastily scheduled a visit with an eye doctor to determine the problem. The doctor gave him a thorough eye examination and delivered the bad news: “I hate to tell you this…but you’re suffering from a disease for which there is no cure. You’re aging. I can’t cure it but I can offer a temporary remedy. How about a pair of glasses?”   Once our friend got his new glasses, he remarked, “It’s amazing what I’ve been missing.”

This happens often in everyday life. Our vision of critical landmarks has become blurred over time because we are so accustomed to the terrain that we assume nothing has changed. Yet change is constant. Our old and reliable road maps are no longer accurate. If we are going to provide effective, visionary leadership to our sales teams, we must re-focus and take a closer look at how the sales environment within our organization is changing and how we are redefining our ability to connect with our customers. Our leadership challenges have shifted over time in subtle but important ways.

Let’s take a look at some critical changes within the sales landscape for many of us. They fall into two broad and wide ranging categories: 1) changes in how we, as selling teams, organize, train and support effective selling practices, and 2) changes in how we plan and execute communication with our customers. Some of these changes may seem very familiar while others may come as a surprise. For illustrative purposes we will focus on changes within healthcare but most of our examples apply to all industries.

Changes in How We Organize, Train & Support Effective Selling

For a moment, let’s consider how the selling milieu within many of our organizations has changed over the last several years.

Changes in How We Connect With Our Healthcare Customers

Our relationships with our healthcare customers have changed. Sales representatives find themselves facing different buying processes and different buying influences.

Parting Thoughts

The challenge facing our profession is to address—even embrace—the changes in the buy-sell process. Sales representatives are facing more decision makers with greater expertise and higher expectations. On the selling side, this means forging a broad network of relationships among buying influences, managing value messages that resonate, providing proof to support claims while jointly planning ways to solve customer problems and needs.