I was kindly thrown this book, The Machine by Justin Roff-Marsh published in 2015, by a friend to read whilst taking a break with the kids in Scotland. And I found it an amazing read, the application of logic and rational thinking to the mysterious world of sales is refreshing and from my perspective, it is more applicable to today than ever. I have spent many years mapping and analysing business processes, both sales and after-sales, and for me, this book resonated on how people need to think differently today, although the irony is that beyond sales many other operational business functions grasped this many years ago and it is probably the conventional sales mindset that has blocked such progress for sales.
The book argues that the traditional sales model and sales process, so prevalent in so many businesses not least the automotive sector, is just not fit for purpose. Organisations wrestle with customers moving seamlessly between all the different channels available to them, whilst the behind the scenes the organisation struggles to join things up making the ‘seamless’ experience feel anything but seamless for the customer. For the organisation, they are prevented from realising the value from both the short and longer term relationship with the customer. Indeed within the automotive sector, the issue is compounded by the introduction of the current franchise model with multiple retailers, retailer groups, the manufacturer and sometimes even an importer sitting between the manufacturer and the retailer groups.
The first place, so many have turned to find a solution to creating the seamless experience and realising the value, is technology. Initially, this was through contact management solutions, then CRM solutions and now increasingly layering over the top, or to the side, e-commerce platforms. These solutions have so often been touted as being the ‘silver bullet’ to make it all happen resulting in organisations sinking tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands into these technical solutions. But as Justin Roff-Marsh clearly points out in Chapter 10, the result is to overlay often complex technology over an ‘outdated’ business model with its associated sales organisational structure, sales culture and sales business processes resulting in little if any benefit. Frequently, the business case is undermined further by the application of a sales remuneration model that drives short term thinking and self-interest. The reality is, and this is the message from the book, is that you have to think about sales very differently today and apply different principles to your business model and how you structure your organisation and define your business processes. There need to be new underpinning principles that drive the development of an environment where the customer does get a truly seamless experience as they move between the multi-channels whilst allowing you to maximise the lifetime value of your customers – a truly omni-channel experience. Well worth read and certainly enriches and re-enforces our thinking at Atonic4commerce.