Digitization of Manufacturing Drives New Sales Roles for Changing Buyers

By: Priya Ghatnekar Digital Transformation, Manufacturing, Sales Process

The New Coverage Model

As manufacturers begin to understand the buyer journey and align it with the sales process, they will need to ensure they have the right roles to execute on all aspects of the sales process. The buyer is changing as we shift to more technical sales; likewise, sales roles are shifting to accommodate that change.

The traditional manufacturing sales model predominantly relied on the core seller to execute the majority of the sales process with the help of pre-sales and overlay resources to support the sale.

As reviewed in part 1, the phases of sales process will shift from the typical access/persuade/fulfill to land, adopt, expand and renew. Effectively supporting these new sales stages requires the deployment of specialized sales resources. Two key roles that are critical to the success of this new overage approach due to a changing buyer and a subscription-based revenue stream are: enterprise hunter and customer success manager.

Enterprise Hunter

As the customer shifts from a traditional buyer to likely multiple buyers in the information technology field managing the enterprise infrastructure, there is a need to create new relationships. The enterprise hunter role’s sole remit is to uncover opportunities and liaise with the technology buyer. The enterprise hunter will have a skill set more closely aligned with traditional tech roles as opposed to manufacturing roles. They will have to articulate different value propositions that resonate with the IT buyer focusing on the ROI of the solution. In order to be successful in penetrating this buyer, manufacturers will have to leverage sellers from technology.


The subscription-based revenue stream associated with a connected widget requires a significant adoption and post-sale engagement process. After the buyer acquires and implements the solution, the manufacturer needs to ensure that the solution is adopted. This is a critical step to ensure that customer continues to pay for the subscription license which provides the manufacturer with the ongoing revenue stream. To support this, most companies leverage a dedicated sales role: the customer success manager (CSM).

Support-Focused: The CSM function is responsible for providing support to existing customers to ensure they have a positive customer experience.

Adoption-/Usage-Focused: The CSM drives adoption and usage of the technology across the customer.

Upsell-/Retention-Focused: The CSM is responsible for retaining the revenue by renewing contracts. They also have some responsibility for driving additional revenue by uncovering and closing upsell opportunities.

Expansion-Focused: The CSM is responsible for identifying opportunities in exciting accounts and driving sales by providing additional solutions for the customer.

The customer success function is a key piece to ensuring the manufacturer continues to drive subscription revenue.

Additional Considerations

After understanding the new necessary job roles, manufacturers will also have to consider what ‘types’ of individuals will be successful in executing these new revenue motions. Manufacturers will need to ensure that once they have the right roles and talent, they have the right enablement tools to ensure they can measure, motivate and retain talent. Stay tuned for more in this series!

Co-author: John Stamos is a manager in Alexander Group’s Chicago office.
Read more from Priya and John.

Read part 1 of this series.
Read part 3 of this series.
Read part 4 of this series.

Contact Alexander Group to help your organization sort out sales roles alignment with emerging models.

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Priya Ghatnekar

Priya Ghatnekar is a director in the Chicago office. Priya has experience working with clients across multiple industries, including manufacturing, high tech and financial services. Priya has worked on a variety of project types including revenue motions; sales coverage; job design; and multiple large, global sales compensation engagements. One recent engagement had her overseeing the execution of a sales transformation roadmap across three European and North American divisions.

Prior to joining the Alexander Group, Priya was an analyst at Towers Watson’s Investment Services group. She focused on defined contribution and defined benefit plans. She was responsible for developing and monitoring investment programs. Priya has also worked at both The Marco Consulting Group and EnnisKnupp & Associates. Priya holds a B.A. from The George Washington University and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

John Stamos

John Stamos is a manager in the Chicago office. John has experience working with companies in a variety of industries including manufacturing, high-tech, insurance and consumer packaged goods. His most recent engagements include a complete go-to-market strategy assessment, full-scale enterprise program design, job roles and competency model design, and detailed territory alignment.

Prior to joining the Alexander Group, John was a product marketing manager for Cognex Corporation where he conducted market analysis for international serialization initiatives in the pharmaceutical industry and oversaw the development of its configuration software. Prior to this role, John had territory account responsibility at Cognex, selling automation solutions to assist in the quality control and traceability in various industries including pharmaceutical, food and beverage packaging, automotive manufacturing, electronic component assembly and retail logistics. John has nine years of direct sales and distribution management experience.

John holds an MBA from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering & French from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.