Interview with Business Transformation Consultant and Disruptive Selling Expert Patrick Maes
Patrick MaesToday's guest is Patrick Maes, founder and Managing Director of CPI Commercial Performance Improvement.

He studied commercial science, marketing and distribution. He started his career as a banker, switched to advertising and found his vocation as an international business and performance improvement consultant helping investment companies to shape-up newly acquired companies.

He founded CPI in 2005 to help B2B, industrial and engineering companies to rethink sales, marketing, customer service and value delivery. In April 2016 he published Disruptive Selling, a book on how to turn changes in customer expectations into opportunities to gain industry leadership by implementing new organisational insights and applying smart technology.

Hi Patrick, thanks for stopping by Activia’s Expert Insights section – could you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Patrick Maes. I am the owner of a consultancy company in commercial performance improvement ( I work with a team of 20 consultants and we serve clients all over the world. Our clients are companies and entrepreneurs willing to update their sales and marketing approach and willing to implement new organisational and technological concepts to their selling process.

Career-wise, how did you get to where you are today?

I studied business economics, finance and marketing and started my career in banking. After a couple of years I was offered a job in advertising that I gladly accepted. I worked in account management, business development and creation. Following a study I conducted on the impact of advertising on sales results I discovered a series of improvement domains in the sales marketing domain that allowed me to create a screening model for commercial performance that I offered to investment companies to rate the commercial quality of the companies they wanted to acquire. This led to the creation of my own company in 2005.

YDisruptive Sellingour new book, Disruptive Selling: A New Approach to Sales, Marketing and Customer Service, is due for release next month, could you tell us a little about it? 

Customer expectations, customer purchasing processes, the way organisations function and the way technology becomes accessible to everybody are game changers in commercial organisations. Companies that embrace these new concepts of selling and operating will thrive and create competitive advantage. Those who don't will rapidly decline.

My book is about these changes, about the way these changes create opportunities and about how these opportunities can be translated into sales, marketing and customer service approaches.

Would you mind briefly explaining the concept of disruptive selling? 

Disruptive selling is about starting from a white page. Forget your current organisation and processes and redesign your selling process and your customer journeys using 21st century insights and technology to discover how you can work more efficiently and create a better customer experience by doing things radically different.

Are you working on any new projects you can tell us about?

We are working on a broad range of projects. From start-ups that ask us to assist with the design of a sales model including consultancy on value proposition fine-tuning and pricing to larger organisations that ask us to rethink the role of sales and marketing and to align processes with the concepts of The New Selling. We also do a lot of work in the field of CRM recovery - helping companies to get back on track with CRM-projects that are out of control or that are not working. We recently developed a new model that allows us to help newly appointed commercial managers and directors to significantly speed-up their work-in.

How have sales and marketing evolved since you started your career?

When I started, marketing and sales were different worlds and different silos. Marketing was about creating and maintaining brands, and sales was about closing deals. Sales brought in the money and marketing contributed to spending it. Over the past few years, marketing has become much more accountable and is more and more involved in the selling process through lead generation and customer experience management. Sales is becoming a specialist job that focusses on closing deals as part of a much bigger organisation.

Why is disruptive selling so essential in today’s business environment?

Sales keeps businesses afloat. If the sales process is not adapted to customer expectations and to changes in the competitive environment the future of the company is in danger. Disruptive selling is a way to make sure that your sales approach is constantly updated and adapted new insights.

Why is focusing on the customer so important to the success of a salesperson today? 

Focusing on the customer was always important in sales. In the past, the goal of focusing on the customer was to sell. Today it is not only to sell but also to turn customers into repeat customers and into advocates that will promote your company and your way of working with other potential customers. Your customers become your most important sales people and you become their sales manager.

How do you think advancements in technology and social media have changed our expectations for customer service? 

Technology allows companies to gain insight in all interactions with customers and to better understand customer expectations. This results in customers receiving a better and a faster service. Predictive analytics allow to successfully match specific offerings with specific customers. Social Media are replacing traditional communication channels such as telephone and e-mail in customer service. This has a huge impact on the organisation of service departments and on the insights that can be gathered about cost to serve and use of service concepts by specific target groups.

What is a simple way to make your customers feel more empowered? 

Allow customers access to all relevant information on your products and services and allow them to move from interest to purchase with a simple click on a button or a call to a 24/7 call center. No need to involve sales to slow down the selling process and no need to disperse key information on your product via a drip-model if direct decision to purchase can be made.

What do you wish more people knew about sales and marketing in general? 

The insight that sales is changing and that fundamentally changing the approaches to sales, marketing and customer service is essential to survive.

Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Just start from a white page and question everything you do at the moment. Do you really still need a sales force? Is the time you spend on the development of tons of content really helping you to bring in qualified leads that eventually become profitable customers? Is your value proposition really enchanting and convincing? Do you really understand what your customers want? Is there any way you can make your sales, marketing and customer service more fun for your customers and for your team?

Patrick's book, Disruptive Selling: A New Approach to Sales, Marketing and Customer Service, is published on 15 September, 2016. If you'd like to have a look and pre-order your copy, you can do so here. And, if you'd like to connect with Patrick, make sure to say hello on Twitter at @patrick_cpi.