The Danger of Departmentalization

I recently came across a blog on the Harvard Business Review which departmentalized sales people into 5 different categories.

  1. Relationship Builders
  2. Hard workers
  3. Lone Wolves
  4. Reactive Problem Solvers
  5. Challengers

After reading the article I posted a question on the Advance Selling Podcast LinkedIn group page asking the question as to whether “Challengers” were the future of sales.  There were a number of responses to the question and these prompted a new debate in my head about how easy it is to “box” something up into a pre-fabricated category just so that it is easier to filter through it and find what we’re looking for. Within the Localization industry we too are departmentalized; company size, service offerings, geographical location, etc etc and this is why a salesperson’s role in our industry has become so much more difficult.

There is a pre-conception about you and your company before the first contact has even been established, you have already been departmentalized.  It is now your job as the salesperson to first understand which box you have been placed in and then go on to find out from the prospect why you have been placed in this box. You then need to establish if this is what the prospect is looking for or if it was just some kind of filtration method they’ve used to narrow down the 47,000 field of LSPs into a more manageable size.  Regardless of which the world within which we now find ourselves is so fast-moving that if you’re in the wrong box you’re in for a bumpy ride.

So let us presume that you have found yourself in a positive filtered box and the prospect is now engaging with you.  It is now your job to establish the full extent of the prospect’s requirements and, within boundaries of their departmentalization system, differentiate yourself from the others in this same box.  The sales process hereafter continues in earnest and each of you will have your own way of doing things.

Back now, to the original statement; “The Danger of Departmentalization” In this very brief description above about how difficult understanding the departmentalization of a company can be to the sales process in the localization industry, we can quite clearly see how limiting it can be to narrow down a large field of providers by using simple departmentalization tactics.  It is understandable that reducing such a large field of providers is a requirement but at the end of the process are we really getting the best service for our specific requirements?  Let’s be honest we all see ourselves and our business as unique so why should our requirements be any different?

The reasoning behind this process is driven by our need to have something quickly, so why not step back and start the process a little sooner?  In so doing you can be more specific about your requirements and take a little more time listening to, and then choosing, the right service partner for you.  Departmentalization is a very valid requirement but over simplifying and rushing the process will lead to poor decisions being made.