A new very good blog post of the very good website "You Exec" which use to give you awesome powerpoint presentation "The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation" with 20 tips for reps and interesting statistics feedbacks about how to sell a solution (IT or others), show us that a difference between a good rep and a bad rep is up to 200% of closed deal. Yes, 200%...it's just the difference between a company sinking and a company growing.
The other key aspect is the big shift about solutions sellers: they need more and more to take a part of the risk of their(s) client(s) and it's new to be accountable of the results and not only about the process. People i know working in an agency told me one time they can spend up to 40 hours in "pre-sales" efforts without any certitude about the results. It means that you need to spend a lot of time to understand and serve directly the interest of the stakeholders.
The "You Exec" blog posts define the ideal profile of the rep as the "Challenger profile", It means that it's this guy coming in meeting not only showing a very good powerpoint about what the company did by the past - in any case, the references are always more or less the same, to be honest - but what the company will do for the guys or girls around the table, no matter of the past and "pre-configured solutions" are less and less chance to be taken like they are.
Perhaps a good example of this turning point between sellers and companies who hire agencies is the Hertz's case with Accenture - Hertz was delegating the responsibilities of their business to a very big and very known agency: Accenture and they apparently did bad. There is a law case and I was not working with any of the actors of this digital saga, but I guess that you had in one hand a Herz's management team with a "0-effort mindset template" and in the other hand very clean young and smart reps with a big name behind them but a "0-advice mindset template".
Easy money for Accenture reps perhaps using the very good powerpoint template of "You exec" which are very impressive indeed but forgetting that there is some homework to do behind, and not very responsible team leaders in Hertz's side.
A failure in a digital project is always the meeting of two incompetences: the lack of product ownership in the client's side and the lack of challenging advice on the agency side.
Taking control of your customer's conversation, it's not only a mantra but a way to be to not fail in your rep's mission and "doing mission" behind.