While a sales rep may focus on their product, the customer is thinking about a solution to their problem. Although the sales rep’s product may be an important component in the overall solution, without all elements in the end-to-end solution clearly understood and available, the product by itself is of little use. Quite simply, there will be no end to the sales process without a clearly available end-to-end solution. Whoever identifies all of the necessary components and develops a practical plan that addresses all of the E2E components will control the sale and its timing.
Expecting all of the required pieces of the E2E solution to come together, or expecting the customer to make incremental purchase or implementation decisions, is simply not realistic. One missing piece, similar to a missing link in a chain, renders the other components useless. The fallback rationalization of, “We have done our part,” may make an individual feel good, but does little to resolve the situation. Instead, the sales rep or someone else must step up and take ownership for insuring that the customer’s problem is resolved. That person, and no one else, has control over the situation, while all others are either passive or active, but non-controlling participants.
Obviously, as the E2E system involves more components, the likelihood of success decreases. A simple but vivid example of this situation can be illustrated with only a three-component system. Consider a system with only three components in which each component, working as expected, is represented with a “1” and each component not working or available for one reason or another is represented with a “0”. All of the combinations are: 000, 001, 010, 011, 100, 101, 110, and 111. Of the eight combinations, only the “111” combination indicates that all three components are working properly. A three-component system clearly represents a simplistic system. Think of an automobile or a product line or even an order-processing system and the number of in-line components that must be available and consistently work together to produce the desired output.
Customers think about the E2E while a component sales rep thinks about their offering. If the sales rep is not in the position to manage or control the E2E solution, they should at least acknowledge its importance with the customer and offer help and guidance to the greatest extent possible. Also, they need to adjust their timing expectations accordingly.