The 'last mile' is a colloquial phrase widely used in the telecommunications to refer to the portion of the network chain that physically reaches the end-user's premises. This connectivity is critical; it is the link to their paying customers and allows them to receive revenue for their entire network. Without the connection there are no customers, no revenue.
At Holden Advisors, we look at the importance of the last mile of your commercial strategy - your sales team speaking to your customer about price and closing the deal. Without that connectivity and discussion, you cannot connect with their customers and receive revenue. Based on our experience, companies that don’t focus on the last mile lose multiple points of profit on every deal.
Why do companies invest so little in the last mile of the commercial strategy?
Like telecom, the last mile is critical and a point of competitive advantage. Not investing in your sales team to teach them how to specifically have the discussions with customers about value and price is the surest way to ensure your customers never understand your value.
I’ve heard many excuses to neglect this critical link:
- My sales force is too big to corral
- I can’t have the sales force out of the field
- Sales people aren’t robots - rely on their ingenuity
- We don’t have the money to conduct training
- Our sales force churn is too high
Just because it is hard does not mean it should not be done.
Importantly, your buyer does not want to recognize your value because they know, upon recognition of that differentiation and impact, they will have to pay for it. It is vital to arm sales with this information. Given the fact that an average company gets 80% of their revenue from their existing clients and every existing client is looking for ways to cut cost, your sales people are in your clients’ cost-cutting crosshairs.
If you are one of those companies that does not focus on the last mile of your commercial strategy, it’s the surest way to make your company and your offering look like a commodity. If you think you can grow profitably in today’s environment with a commoditized offer, I wish you good luck.
To win today, there are two things you need to arm your sales team: First is the true understanding of how your offerings impact your clients’ business. That’s the value you deliver and the subject of another blog. The other is to give your sales people the negotiation backbone they need to hold firm and stay confident in their price and offer. This is the skill your teams need to successfully deliver against the last mile of your commercial strategy and drive profitable growth.