Have you ever heard the old saying that “the only constant is change?”
Those five words could be used to describe most sectors of the sales industry, but it is particularly true for the chemical manufacturing world.
Quips aside, the fact is consistent sales success isn’t easy, and reps across the board are struggling to connect with decision-makers and drive sales results.
On the surface, things should be getting easier. Reps have sales enablement tools to help with prospecting and leaders have tools to help monitor progress. What the technology resellers don’t want you to know is that all of the bells and whistles can’t compete with relationship-based selling, or what we call an Other-Centered® approach.
Sure, technology might point you in the right direction, but it cannot understand goals, needs, and challenges, and it certainly cannot get the deal across the finish line. Mastering sales in the chemical manufacturing industry revolves around understanding its complexities and choosing to serve.
The Challenges of Chemical Manufacturing Sales
The chemical manufacturing industry can be summed up in a single word – complex. Resource availability, raw material price fluctuations, labor shortages, unique subsectors, and the current global market creates an intricate web that each sales rep must learn to maneuver through.
Operational challenges result in constantly shifting priorities, making it a minefield for sales reps that take outdated approaches, such as assuming that all prospects have the same pain points.
This combined with an increase in competition from the global marketplace, means that decision-makers are less receptive, have more options, and don’t have to deal with salespeople that don’t understand their unique needs.
So how can you set your sales team up for success in the face of constant adversity?
The answer is relatively simple, and yet, like the chemical manufacturing industry, complex.
Unlocking Sales Success
Despite the complexities, transforming your sales team can be distilled into three steps. Admittedly, the three factors that we outline below are comprised of multiple layers that require dedication to generate long-lasting sales success.
Before we can even approach the sales aspect of the problem, we first must acknowledge that a deep understanding of the chemical manufacturing industry is needed to succeed in this arena. The industry is composed of various sub-sectors that experience their own challenges and approaching each one the same will prove an exercise in futility.
Getting your reps up to speed requires getting them fluent with the regulatory and compliance aspects of the industry, as well as the various chemical products and their applications.
An honest assessment of each team member’s industry knowledge and a structured plan to get those that lag behind up to speed is essential. Ultimately this serves as the foundation, upon which everything else is built.
Once foundational knowledge is built, the focus shifts to sales. As we have mentioned, the sales strategies of yesteryear don’t particularly jive with the current sales climate. Buyers have too much information at their disposal, and too many options to have to deal with pushy salespeople.
Igniting change begins and ends with mindset. With the right mindset, no goal is too big, and no obstacle with a prospect is too large to overcome. But how do you ignite change as a sales leader?
We choose to frame it as a single question that the rep must answer with every interaction – who will they serve?
This simple question is at the core of an Other-Centered approach and it is the key to sales success in the chemical manufacturing industry. This means that they actively have to choose to serve the customer. Doing so allows the sales rep to focus on the challenges that each customer faces, rather than assuming they already have the solution.
Choosing to serve reverberates throughout the Other-Centered approach, but you may be asking yourself, “why is it effective?” Its power is derived from the fact that it places the relationship over the sale.
For struggling sales teams, that can be a hard pill to swallow, because they are often looking for the magic sales beans that can make all of their wildest dreams come true. There are no beans. Each rep has to put in the work and dedicate themselves to building relationships to succeed in any sales environment, and most certainly in one as complex as chemical manufacturing.
The challenge is that implementing a sales technique is easy, getting someone to fundamentally change how they prioritize their own wants and desires is incredibly difficult. But the results speak for themselves.
When the focal point of every conversation a rep has is all about serving the customer and addressing their needs, the entire process is streamlined. Prospecting becomes easier as unqualified prospects are quickly removed from the pipeline. Negotiations are simplified because the rep chooses to relinquish control in the inevitable back and forth, a technique we refer to as Drop the Rope®. Each conversation effectively becomes a building block around which the relationship is built.
As a leader, it is important to understand that transformation doesn’t happen in an instant. As much as you might like, you cannot act as a fairy godmother and waive your wand. Quick fixes are short-term solutions that turn into pumpkins at midnight.
Transform Your Chemical Manufacturing Sales Team With ASLAN
Sales are hard, relationship-building is easy. Don’t get us wrong, we love to see our partners and their sales teams succeed, but the results are the product of the sum of each rep’s dedication to their craft. By building an internal library of chemical manufacturing knowledge, and adopting an Other-Centered mindset, closing business will become a byproduct of the relationships that they have built.
If you are struggling with the three-step model that we outlined above, take a closer look at the ASLAN Other-Centered workshop. We take the time to focus on your team’s unique challenges and goals, and from there build a comprehensive training program that helps you drive results. We will be the first to tell you that our process isn’t for everyone, but the proof is in the pudding.
To learn more about ASLAN’s approach to sales, our workshops, and our team, visit our website and connect if you feel we can help ignite change.