Topic outline

  • Most companies are in the middle of moving their business practices toward service-based exchange, proactive communication of customer business value, and networked value creation in close cooperation with other ecosystem participants. New skills are in great demand: Business management needs to update their mindset and capabilities to succeed in the transformation. Specifically, B2B selling and sales management need new capabilities, tools and processes to succeed in the new business environment. 

    The “Managing value-based selling” course focuses on contemporary B2B selling and sales management from an organizational perspective. The course views selling as a proactive business function that seeks to identify, communicate and agree on value creation opportunities by exploring and showing how suppliers could help their customers to reach their business goals.

    The course content builds on a view that suppliers and customers integrate their capabilities and resources to create value. The task and goal of the sales function is to 1) identify value creation opportunities, 2) communicate the value creation opportunity to key stakeholders in the customer organisation, structure and agree on the roles, responsibilities and rules for the joint value creation, and finally agree on how the valued created is shared among the participants.

    The influencing task of the sales function is described as an organised system of sales activities, which are supported by (digital) tools and sales skills. Central to the value-based selling is value proposition, which the sales function builds, communicates, and adapts during the buyer-seller interactions.

    The proactive influencing by the sales function is organised into a framework of sales, key account management, sales opportunity management, and sales funnel management processes, which all link to the customer's buying and procurement processes.

    Learning Outcomes

    The participants will learn how to plan, perform, and manage contemporary B2B sales. The course develops knowledge, skills, and tools to build an effective sales function, develop market-driven value propositions, and evaluate and coach sales quality. The course also teaches customer value (and value proposition), which lay the foundation for the business-to-business exchange. Further, the participants will learn about the changing role of sales as cross-disciplinary function in a networked (ecosystem-based) value creation.


    The course teaching leveraged a versatile set of learning methods, outlined below:

    • Online activities (Online pre-learning module, short introductory videos on the key concepts, quizzes to test learning)
    • Article reviews (in-class activity, in groups of 3-4 students)
    • Learning cases (visiting business guest speakers from sales consulting and professional services industries)
    • Learning diary (1-page summary of a key topic in a pre-specified format)
    • Course essay  (group activity in groups of 2 - 4 students by reading and reviewing one the selected sales management business books)
    • Online course exam in essay format.

    For details & dates, see the the individual module descriptions. Please note that while the content and structure remain as described, there will some changes to module sequence and dates due to external case speakers. The course structure will be finalized by mid October.

    Scope 6 Cr

  • The first module paints the "big picture" of sales & sales management as part of the inter-company value creation. The learning goal of the first module is to understand the role and structure of a value proposition in B2B selling.


    Value creation in business relationships: The role of sales in contemporary networked value-focused business relationships is to design and communicate a value proposition, which is then used by marketing and sales to engage customers into joint value creation. In our first session we first explore and analyse a few different value propositions to agree on a value proposition structure. Then, we link value proposition to customer's goals, change and decision making. 

    Preparation for the meeting includes three quick activities:

    1.  Watch a video "Value communication examples" (or this link) to understand how different companies seek to influence their customers goals, needs, and solution vision. 

    2. Watch a video "Understanding customer goals" (or this link) to understand why and how customers change. We will then discuss during the first session how value proposition and customer decision making are connected.

    During the class:

    3. I'll recap on the value communication, customer decision making, and the role of value proposition in marketing and sales and paint the "big picture of sales management". Here's a link to the presentation material.

    After the class:

    4. Test your learning by a quiz: "Understanding customer goals" The quiz is activated at 12.00 and closed at 18:00. You have 20mins to answer 9 true/false questions.


    Influencing with valueThe sales function leverages value proposition in different ways and formats at the different stages of the buyer-seller interactions. The sales function (often also as key account managers) exchange information and agree on commitments together with the customer's key people. The information and commitments are evaluated by the sales management function to support the sales management function toward a joint value creation agreement. 

    Organizations buy solutions and services to implement change. Fundamental to selling is to understand buying and decision making and how selling is used to influence these. Preparation  for the day involves reading the article discussing customer value propositions in business markets and watching a video "Value proposition structure". 

    1. Read the article: "Customer value-propositions in business markets" and

    2. Watch the video "Value proposition structure", (or this link) which re-connects to the Tuesday's discussion.

    Then, during the class 

    3. We have a quest presentation from HILTI, which is known for its innovative approach to business development. Presentation material is here.

    4. We have a group presentation from you, presenting the pre-reading article. Then,

    5. I quickly recap and discuss the key topics of the week. Here's the presentation material.


    5. Summarise your learning by writing a short reflective essay on the entire week's learning insightsThe first module learning diary: Write a short reflective online learning diary on "Customer goals & buying process". Please complete the learning diary by the next meeting (10.00 on 1.11)

  • The second module is about sales as proactive and structured process to drive and influence buying. The learning goal of the module is to understand the structure, tasks and tools of proactive value selling.


    Buying and selling connected: Organizations buy solutions and services when implementing change. Fundamental to selling is to understand buying and decision making. Selling connects these processes. The different activities of a structured value-based sales approach. The range of digital tools supporting the sales activity system. 

    Preparation for the day includes two activities: 

    1) watch the video "5 steps of proactive selling". Links to the videos:  5 steps of proactive selling

    2) read the article "Selling solutions by selling value". The article outlines the content & structure of both buying and selling processes by stage and the connections between stages. The article also discusses the timely challenge of moving from reactive selling to proactive value selling. Link to the article: "Selling solutions by selling value". 

    3) After the day's lecture, take a quiz to test your learning. The quiz is open from 12 until 18. Link to the quiz: 5 steps of proactive selling

    The day's presentation article is also the "Selling solutions by selling value". 

    Link to the presentation material: Influencing with sales.


    Inside the sales process: People, value, and control. Preparation  for the day involves watching a video "3 sales focus areas", reading the article "Three ways to sell value".

    1. Link to the video:  Three sales focus areas: People, value, and control

    2. Pre-reading and presentation article presentation "Three ways to sell value". This article describes how value selling is done at the different stages of the customer's buying process.

    3. During the meeting the focus is on evaluating a selection of sales tools around 1) relationship development, 2) value creation, and 3) controlling the sales process. Link to the presentation material: Influencing with sales. Please make sure that you have access to the material, included are the tool descriptions. 

    4. After the day's meeting, take the quiz: "The three focus areas of modern selling". PLEASE NOTE that the quiz builds on the lecture material & discussions.

    Learning diary: Write a short reflective online learning diary on "Proactive & structured influencing". The diary will be open from 10.00 Thu 3.11 until 10.00 Tue 8.11)

  • The third module is about individual selling skills.


    Individual selling skills: Individual sales skills are needed when implementing the customer-facing sales activities at the different stages of the overall sales process. Here's my presentation material for the day. Preparation for the day includes two activities: 

    1) watch the video "Individual selling skills". This video is rather long, but hopefully a good introduction to the key personal selling skills.

    2) read the article "The end of solution sales". This article rather provocatively argues that a successful seller challenges rather than explores customer's views.

    The day's presentation article is also "The end of solution sales". If you wish to present this article, please assign yourself to the presentation group in article review presentations.

    After the meeting, take the quiz "Individual selling skills". The quiz opens at 11:45 and closes at 18:00.

    THURSDAY (self-study day, no meeting)

    Putting the sales skills in action: Connecting the the generic individual sales skills into the proactive 5 step sales process. Prepare by reading the article "Value-Based Selling: An organizational capability perspective". This article is rather successfully receiving citations as a holistic description of how to plan, implement, and leverage value-based selling, and integrates the different elements of proactive value-based selling. Relating to the "Implement" step the article's VBS model, you may want to re-check the video "5 Steps".

    Please write a learning diary, which discusses the model presented in the article and integrates your learning on the individual selling skills with the model. Please return the learning diary until 10.00 on Tue 15.11. 

  • The fourth module is about the tools and processes for managing important individual sales cases and managing the entire portfolio of ongoing sales cases.


    Sales opportunity managements: When selling solutions with high cost of sales, an important managerial task is to prioritise between available sales opportunities to ensure best use of resources. Preparation for the day is done by reading a whitepaper "Sales opportunity management" (in Finnish or in English)  The white paper outlines the key concepts and processes for sales opportunity management.

    During the lecture, I will focus on outlining sales opportunity management. Link to presentation material: presentation material. We also do a group exercise based on an opportunity evaluation tool (presented in the pre-reading material). Link: Opportunity evaluation questions.

    After the class, please take the quiz on opportunity management. Please note that the quiz is based on the pre-reading material.


    Sales funnel management. The sales funnel management is managerial process that evaluates and decides on the entire portfolio of active sales opportunities. The funnel management is the link between selling and the rest of the organisation, providing information for production, resource management, and even share holders about how the company is expected to perform in the foreseeable future.

    Preparation for the day is to read the article "Assessing value co-creation and value capture potential in services: A management framework". This paper extends the earlier discussed buying and selling process structures into management processes. The article will be presented.

    During the lecture I will present and discuss the key elements of sales funnel management. Please find the presentation material here.

    The funnel management quiz is based on the lecture material.

  • The fifth module is focusing on how selling is changing toward partnership management in a tightly integrated network of companies.


    Customer portfolio & relationship management: Customer portfolio and relationship management is the third element of the operational sales management function. Preparation for the day is done by 

    1) reading the article "Managing the co-creation of value",

    2) Article presentation is also the "Managing the co-creation of value".

    The lecture presentation discusses the essentials of key account management. Here's a link to the lecture material.

    Take the "
    KAM Quiz" after the meeting. The quiz will be based on the lecture material.


    The changing role of sales. An effective sales organization has clear and measurable goals, roles, customer allocation, and performance management practices. This modules completes the sales management picture by introducing the sales performance management. 

    1) Article presentation: "Aligning the mindset and capabilities at multiple customer interfaces". This article demonstrates that while changing the business mindset and associated capabilities within a firm faces many barriers, success requires similar changes in the connected firms as well. Please read the presentation article, paying attention to conflicting business logics and the multi-dimensional change between mindset and ability, inside a firm, and among connected firms. Please find a short summary presentation of the pre-reading article here.

    2) The lecture presentation will outline the essentials of the sales quality and activity coaching and the sales management framework. Please find the lecture material here.

    3) The Quiz will be based on the lecture material and the pre-reading article. 

    4) Then final learning diary is about key account management and sales performance management.

  • The closing module is summarising the course content.

    Instructions for the remaining steps to complete the course are presented.


    Lecture presentation: From value proposition to sales management systemInstructions on course essay and final exam. If you. have any open questions from the previous modules, I would be happy to answer those during the summary lecture. Please feel free to email me your questions.

  • Article reviews are done in groups of 3-4 students by reading the assigned article and preparing a short presentation on the key points. The presentation structure typically includes the following 4 elements. Please keep the presentation very brief, 1(or max 2) slide per topic as a general rule.

    1. What is the article about? What was studied & why was it important to study?

    2. What were the results of the article? What concepts, frameworks, models, or theories did the article come up with?

    3. What would you like us to learn of the article?

    4. What is your opinion of the article? What was good & interesting, what was not?

    After your presentation, please submit your presentation as a pdf file into the submit box.

  • The course essay is (preferably) written in groups of three. The preferred essay topic is to review a solution sales methodology book. The target size is about 7-10 A4 pages. I have a selection of books to borrow for review, including "Customer-Centric Selling", "Solution Selling", and "The New Strategic Selling" which all give an excellent overview & details of a contemporary methodology for solution selling. You may also suggest another book to review.

    Completion deadline for the essay is 15.1.2023.

    Within your group, each group member selects a topic to review, one topic per person.


    - What are the topics you review and why?

    MAIN CONTENT (one chapter for each topic reviewed) 
    -Explain the topic: Key concepts, frameworks, and models
    -Discuss the topic: How relevant, how practical, how easy to learn and implement, …

    -How would you like to summarize the book against what you have learned duringthe course
    -How would you compare the book against your previous experience?
    -What important elements of modern selling the book is not discussing (if any)?

    List of REFERENCES (if any)


    Structure and clarity
    -Organization of the content
    -Structure and integration of the paragraphs
    - Text flow

    Relevance and rhetoric
    -Impact and maturity of expression: don’t just say "it is import to ..." but explain why is it important instead, and let your reader conclude it is actually important. Then, if you argue for something, give proof (references or other evidence)
    -Relevance of content. Everything you say should support you argument. Do not copy & paste text just to expand your document, but keep asking yourself "why does the reader need to know what I say, how does it relate to my argument?"
    -Referencing (the way the authors use sources, for example, smart quotation)

    Originality and reflection
    -Independent, personal, reflective, and critical thought

    - The correctness of the language

  • Once every week, you are requested to reflect on your learning by answering three questions:

    1. In your opinion, what were the key topics of the day's session and why? Please refer to the introduction videos, pre-reading & presentation articles, and lecture materials to support your review.

    2. What new did you learn? Critically reflect the topics presented.

    3. Any other questions or comments?

  • The course exam consists of 4 essay type of questions on the key themes: customer value, value proposition, the proactive sales process, the different processes included in the "big picture" of sales management, individual selling skills, and funnel and opportunity management, 

    You answer 4 of the 5 questions by writing a short essay (half a page)

    You are allowed to have printed copies of the following articles in the exam:

    1) "Value propositions in business markets", Harvard Business Review, Anderson et al (2006)
    2) "Selling solutions by selling value" in book “Practices and Tools for Servitization” Töytäri (2018)
    3) "Value-based selling: An organizational capability perspective", Industrial Marketing Management, Töytäri & Rajala (2015)
    4) "Assessing value co-creation and value capture potential in services: a management framework", Benchmarking – An International Journal, Töytäri (2015)