Innovation management is causing a new hype. Driven by the opportunities and methods of digitisation, companies are paying close attention to this topic – however, not in Sales.

Accordingly, the main focus of companies and their activities is currently on innovative products, services and business models, but not in Sales Innovation. This is also shown by Google: those looking for sales innovation will most likely not find many specific contents.

Even though, Sales is facing far-reaching changes in most industries – which are caused amongst others by the following trends:

  • Commoditization,
    which leads to product advantages not being sustainable anymore.
  • Globalisation,
    which causes higher competition in all markets. If the tendency towards protectionism spreads more rapidly, challenges in Sales in foreign markets will significantly increase.
  • Digitalisation,
    which fosters new competitors, new Sales channels and the potential of new competitive advantages in Sales.
  • Demographic change,
    which intensifies the company’s problems of finding employees in Sales. Moreover, today’s young employees have quite different demands with regards to working hours, flexibility and working environment.

The dynamics of change have never been on a higher level in Sales. This situation cries out for Sales innovation. But why does it not take place?

A few hypotheses:

  1. Sales is highly dependent on performance indicators. The working assumption of Sales managers during bad times is as follows: More effort! Work harder (not smarter)!
  2. Traditionally, Sales is characterised by high degrees of freedom – in other words, even with a CRM it is most commonly not clear what works well and what does not. But, there is an exception: multi-level marketing and direct sales organisations are enhanced to the last detail. Here, you’ll find systematic innovation in most cases.
  3. In the top management of many companies, there is the belief that competitive advantages are generated from the product, price and market, but not Sales.
  4. Many still believe: Sales is art and not science. Therefore, they think Sales success is only dependent on the right employees.

So, what’s to be done?

  1. Top management of Sales has to fully embrace the topic and according to this, prioritise Sales innovation.
  1. Sales innovation has to be institutionalized: It needs a responsible person and a program aligned to sustainability. This has to foster the generation of effective ideas and has to provide creative space as well as tools to ensure efficient conception and prototype testing. Furthermore, success must be continually communicated. Besides, the program has to promote a culture of innovation in Sales.
  2. Also, Sales innovation requires a specific infrastructure – consisting of
    1. a special space, which is consciously designed differently and stimulates creative thinking, to professional moderation,
    2. a tool kit comprised of innovation techniques as well as
    3. support by a network experts and co-innovators. Especially when it comes to new topics and methodology, sufficient know-how is often not provided internally. It can be purchased on the market and afterwards build up internally step by step.

We have developed a Sales InnovationLAB, which provides this support by a modular package.

Summing up, it is critical to address Sales innovation. There are lots of different reasons to do so, but none to not.


Bild: Samuel Zeller /

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