Strategic revenues is an idea that came to me this morning, but it starts from afar.

In my career I ran sales departments in three different realities (multinational, Italian company and small company). I had the pleasure and honour of working together with many different people, meeting various types of sellers. Add to those the one I got to know thanks to training (and these reflections are born right on the sidelines of a training project for sales).

For example, there are those successful, who listen, and those who prefer to speak instead of focusing on listening. There are those who are best at managing existing customers and those who excel at bringing in new opportunities; who is very good at making new contacts and who at closing. There are a thousand facets but in the end the sellers are divided into two categories: those who sell and those who cannot. It is a profession where in the end only numbers speak.

I guess you’ve come across several of them too. For example, among those who struggle to produce the desired results there are some particular types:

  • those who are always in the office and never by customers
  • those who go to customers, but only for lunch or to talk about football (and here Carlo would explain well that when you don’t want to buy from someone you invite him to lunch)
  • those who explain to you why it is impossible to sell under these conditions
  • the very unfortunate ones: “all my clients are stupid, they don’t understand!”

Even among those who produce results there are different types and among these I observed the sellers who sell a lot, but often other than what should be the main offer. In my team I had one like this, and by the way it was by far the best of all. Each quarter he exceeded his goals, received hefty deserved bonuses, but was very creative in meeting customer needs. Among other things, he has more than once managed to sell products to our customers by buying them from competitors. I have often wondered if it is good or bad. Personally I think it is good, and in fact I have recommended this person several times, but some considerations must be made.

Whoever sells produces revenues, whoever sells what the company wants to sell produces strategic revenues. What’s the difference?

Selling complementary solutions to those that the company has decided to propose means going against the current; the rest of the team pushes in another direction resulting in greater difficulty for the seller. It is not an a priori negative aspect: if in the end the person produces it means that he compensates for the greater effort. Returning to the “star” of my team, he was also able to independently manage all the “out of process” avoiding additional stress to the organization.

A second more important point in my opinion is that this turnover does not serve to increase the desired market shares. If the business strategy is to sell some product lines, or to increase its sales in some product sectors, everything that goes outside does not contribute to positioning in that market. Organizations often want to gain market share and be recognized as a relevant player in that context.

In part linked to the previous aspect, there is the fact that these sales do not support the company’s strategic investment: hence my definition of strategic turnover. What do I mean? When an organization decides to sell in a certain market, it invests in related internal or external resources: production, technical, support, marketing, communication and more. Often it makes commercial agreements with partners and suppliers. If the turnover is not strategic, the precious resources allocated are not exploited, which consequently become less productive or do not contribute as expected to the achievement of the objectives with the partners.

So is this non-strategic turnover negative? Do we have to look critically at these sellers despite their significant numbers? There are some very positive aspects that it is right to put on the plate.

These sales can be seen as an exploration of new opportunities. If customers buy, it means that there is a need and that the company is able to satisfy it. Then we must ask ourselves whether they can become part of the commercial strategy

Consequently we can see another positive aspect: sellers of such type are successful even when the business strategy is wrong! Not only that, they will probably continue to sell even during market crises.

Ultimately those complementary sales generate non-strategic revenue, but the profits they bring can be invested to support the business strategy.

So have vendors selling!