From Selling to Co-Creating is not just an academic conversation. It is happening and this ground breaking book is discussed in tomorrow’s Business901 podcast. I had the pleasure of discussing this topic with Régis Lemmens, a consultant, author and teacher on the topic of sales and sales management. He is a partner at Sales Cubes, a sales management consulting firm located in Belgium, specializing in sales and key accounts management.
The podcast and the book delves into this more but I think it is important to understand the interpretation of co-creation. Borrowing from the book:
Value for the customer is co-created by the interaction between the customer and the sales person concerning the job the customer wants done. This means that the customer is always involved at in the process, learns something out of the process and has the feeling or emotion about the whole process, thus both tangible and intangible outcomes may be created, both tangible and intangible forms of value.
The book also goes into describing the Sales person’s interaction which I think is imperative. When I think of co-creation, I simply state that there must be a vested interest in a common outcome (job to be done) by both the seller and the customer.
What is your definition of co-creation?
An excerpt from the podcast:
Joe Dager: We’re talking about this co-creation, co-innovation, adaptability and agility. How does the sales person fit into this? How do they go out and sell? Can he drive someone’s interest there? Or, is this a re-definition of sales happening?
Régis Lemmens: We call it a re-definition of sales, absolutely. We actually see sales becoming more a strategic function in an organization; where marketing used to define the strategy, sales executes it and was more operational. We’re actually seeing more and more organizations today, where sales is way too expensive to keep a dozen operational tools. They’re using sales people now to, basically, develop relationships with key accounts and using those relationships to innovate and to develop new products with those key accounts.
This is kind of interesting because where marketing used to be the ones with focus groups or developing new products with customers, it’s actually the key account managers who are doing that. Now, you see marketing actually drawn more and more into the operational side saying, “Whatever we’ve developed with those key accounts, have a look at it and see if you can market it to a larger market using call centers, the internet and any other form.”
We actually see change. Sales is becoming way more strategic; marketing is becoming way more operational; in terms of how organizations look at them.
Joe: You discuss Lean Start-Up principles when talking with key customers. I think it is very intriguing. I use maybe what you might call a modified type Lean Start-Up approach. Is that something that sales people bring to the table now? Doesn’t marketing try to discover product customer fit or service customer fit?
Régis: I think even sales does it. I think even sales is involved in that. The sales of tomorrow, as we see it, is more an entrepreneur and he will do the lean start-up. He will be involved in the customer validation and product validation. That’s pretty much the role of sales.
To tell you an anecdote in the Netherlands, a big technology research organization and consultancy, I was given a workshop on my book. I addressed a hundred and fifty sales people and I called them sales people. Believe me, they were heavily offended. By the second time I did that that day, they made it very clear that they did not want to be called sales people. Yet, officially they were but they were business developers.
That was really because they see the task really, really differently. They see it as really being an entrepreneur. They go in, find new opportunities, develop them with the customer, validate it with the client; and that’s how they see themselves. They don’t like to be even seen as a sales person because that’s too linked to the old ways of selling products door to door.
What is your definition of co-creation?
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