All of us probably remember a game from our childhoods, “Tag.” One person would be named the “Tagger,” or I suppose, “It.” The tagger would chase someone else around until she reached him and Tagged him, yelling “Tag, You’re It.” The responsibility for “Tagging” shifted and the new Tagger tried to find another victim, passing the responsibilities from person to person to person.

Sometimes, I think our customers may feel like they are in a special game of “Tag,” being passed from SDR/BDR, to sales person to demoer, to sales specialist, to closer (I’m hearing some talk of organizational designs with people focused on the final stages of the sales process.)

While this specialization is very efficient for our own organizations, I wonder what the customer thinks.

If I digress a moment to customer service experience, I know how frustrated I am when I have a problem, call customer service, tell my story to a polite, professional, empathetic person. I’m placed in another queue, transferred to another polite, professional, empathetic specialist, I have to tell my story again, often, I’m passed to some one else. Or if I have to do a follow up call, I go through the same cycle again, but with different people. Too often, I wonder, “Who’s accountable for solving my problem? Why do I have to waste so much time on hold, explaining, re-explaining….”

Now, we create similar experiences in our sales deployment strategies. What does the customer experience? Is that what they want? Is that what enables us to create and drive the grow the most business?

Specialization has long been important in sales and is becoming increasingly important. Our customers worlds are more complex. More people are involved in the buying process (for complex sales). Our solution portfolios are increasingly broad and complex, no one sales person can be expected to know enough about all the products to answer all the customer questions or to support their buying process.

We need specialists to be effective in maximizing the value we create for our customers. But we have to be concerned about the customer view of this process. They are thinking, “Who owns the relationship with me and the rest of the buying team? Who is looking out after our interests? How do I establish a relationship with these people and this company, how do I trust them–particularly if all I see is a revolving door of sales people?”

And the biggest issues, “Who owns understanding and solving my problem? Who knows me?” Tag, You’re It breaks down in these situations.

Too often, we design our organizational structures, roles, and responsibilities to be optimized around our needs–to be able to manage resources effectively/efficiently, to keep control and reduce the costs of selling. Sales executives always have to be attentive to those issues. We have to develop the deployment strategies that most effectively allow us to engage our customers in solving their problems and earn their business.

In high velocity, short cycle, low investment/risk buying processes. High levels of specialization may be very important. SDR’s looking to qualify and arrange the next meeting. Sales people doing a demo, and closing the sale—all in a short period of time—all primarily focused on an individual.

Yeah, perhaps we annoy the prospect, and we’ll lose a few because of it. But we can always make it up in volume. (I suppose). Clearly this process works for transactional, fast cycle sales. There are hundreds of SaaS and other companies demonstrating this every day.

But as we move to more complex situations, as we start looking at the “5.4,” I think we have to worry about the relationship. I think the customer needs to know who owns the relationship, who is responsible for understanding them, solving their problem.

In complex buying/selling processes, we can no longer play “Tag, You’re It.”