Architectural selling is the next step

By: Gary Tubridy Sales Strategy

I recently had a great discussion with a top sales executive in which he said he was driving his account executives who cover the very largest accounts toward what he termed “architectural selling”.  The best way to understand what this means is to put the term into perspective.

Application selling implies that sellers translate product features into functions that have value for customers.  The copier salesperson goes beyond feeds and speeds to promote in-house publishing capabilities.   Further up the evolutionary chain is solution selling.  It drives sellers to mix and match applications into a recipe that helps solve a specific customer problem.  Here, the copier salesperson suggests how document processing and storage functions actually help them copy less, consume less energy and take cost out of office operations.  You solve a cost problem.

Architectural selling is the next step.  It drives sellers to put their products and services into a much broader context for their customers.  Instead of solving for specific business problems, the architectural seller looks for opportunities to change and improve entire customer business functions by creatively applying their products and services.  Here, the copier salesperson suggests how a large investment in hardware, software and services can help clients improve the effectiveness and efficiency of how they create, store and distribute all forms of documentation, providing greater access to important, even critical information.  Think about how this might apply to law or accounting firms.

Note the point about “large investment”; architectural selling implies high value add, high impact and high price point.  As you can imagine, the role of the seller evolves from vendor, to consultant, to trusted advisor.  Not all sellers can pull this off.  And not all product lines lend themselves to architectural selling.  But it sure seems like sales leaders ought to put some serious time into figuring out how their suite of products and services can be used to impact the very architecture of their customers’ businesses.  The result: deeper customer loyalty and larger profits.

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Gary Tubridy

Gary Tubridy is a senior vice president of the Alexander Group and the general manager in charge of the firm’s management consulting business. Gary’s consulting work is focused on increasing marketing and sales effectiveness with particular emphasis in technology and medical products industries. Gary has deep expertise in diagnosing sales management issues and helping clients execute action plans to improve results. His research is focused on best practices of leading sales organizations in North America with particular emphasis on sales force transformation and the role of sales leadership. He leads the Alexander Group executive events series and hosts the Operations and Executive Forums. He is one of three founding stockholders of the Alexander Group.

Gary has been with the Alexander Group for over 35 years. Prior to that, Gary was in sales with the IBM Corporation. Gary holds a B.A. from Brown University and an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University.