Founded in 1917, Fellowes Brands haven’t let age get in the way of innovation. Their salespeople have dealt with the effects of the pandemic innovatively by incorporating digital marketing into their sales strategy. We spoke to James Webb (VP Central Europe & EU Marketing at Fellowes Brands) on the latest episode of The Insiders podcast. He spoke about how hybrid salespeople at Fellowes are adapting to today’s customer-first sales journey with a hybrid strategy of Sales and Marketing across both transactional and consultative selling.

“The salesperson has had to evolve to be a bit of a sales and marketing hybrid as well… they’ve got to be able to liaise and work with a customer and talk their language.”

James proceeded to explain that these hybrids must respond to customer-first sales as each customer has a specific need. Understanding this need is vital as the salesperson must then use their judgment to decide where to place that customer on the sales journey. They must decide whether they need marketing input first or are they already at the point of closing. This focus on the customer outcome extends across both transactional and consultative selling in different ways.

Adapting to the needs of the customer

In 2014, Neil Rackham (Author of S.P.I.N. Selling) predicted that B2B buying would become increasingly polarised. The “middle ground” where buyers are prepared to pay a little more for the benefit of getting advice about their purchase would diminish. Buyers would then buy either transactionally or consultatively.

On the diminishing of the middle ground, James noted that he had noticed it during his time at Fellowes. “It depends on the products, channels that you are serving and the end user needs”. He encourages salespeople and marketers to adapt to the end needs of the consumers.

The size of the organisation can be a part of this adaption. James discusses that “Fellowes might speak to a financial institution about their shredding needs, but a small office consumer will be happy to purchase the product online without any contact whatsoever”. The salesperson therefore has to judge where best to place these customers on their journey. From there, they can decide how to best use their marketing or sales techniques to convert the sale.

How does Fellowes solve this? Salespeople are trained to do workstation risk assessments and are encouraged to spend as much time with the customer or end user as they can. In James’ view, the way to ensure that you are adapting to the users’ needs is to get “as much connection with the consumer as you can” and to become “subject experts”.

James discussed subject experts in the context of the pandemic. Fellowes’ involvement in air filtration heightened their importance because of the prominence of health and safety. Knowledge and expertise can give people confidence they are buying the safest solution, which was more important than ever before.

Marketing for both consultative and transactional selling

James discussed the use of case studies to prove expertise as a demonstration of Marketing and Sales working harmoniously. The salesperson has the knowledge to determine which kind of case study is best to prove products to the customer – and at which touchpoint these would be used in the sales journey. He highlighted two kinds of case studies…

  • Those taking place beforehand backed by scientists as a proof point for a product.
  • Those taking place after the fact showing where the product has benefitted. Examples of these include Chicago Cubs and Doncaster Rovers Case Studies on Air Filtration, as can be seen here.

Our discussion with James on the podcast provided an insight into the ways in which salespeople are using Marketing and Sales techniques for the benefit of the customer, depending on whether the customer needs a transactional or consultative approach. As Simon Hazeldine, host of the show, mentioned on the podcast, “If you want to know why Fellowes has been around since 1917, it’s the focus on the customer and the consumer which is clearly part of the whole ethos of the organisation”.

Get in touch to see how durhamlane can help you to overcome your sales challenges. To hear more thought leadership in Sales and Marketing listen to The Insiders podcast here.

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