Today’s internet age has turned us all into self-diagnosing doctors with medical degrees from Google. We can search out our symptoms and attempt to self-medicate, self-prescribe…perhaps even self-destruct. By the time we seek out actual medical assistance we’ve either driven ourselves into a tizzy about the “worst case scenario” that our symptoms might amount to, or we’ve managed to turn minor problems into major ones in trying to fix them ourselves.
This type of scenario isn’t too far from the type of frantic call I get from business owners, incredibly frustrated and in a state of throwing up their hands after trying to solve their own sales problems.
It’s usually one of two situations which cause a business owner to call us about their sales team:
- They have worked their way through a number of sales hires, and haven’t gained much if any traction in growing sales. Sales hires quit after 3 to 4 months, leaving the business out cash with no sales to show for it.
- They’re finding it horribly painful to manage, incent and coach the handful of salespeople they do have in such a way that consistent results are produced.
Both of these are extremely frustrating and carry a hefty price tag: lost time and opportunity plus labor investment with no ROI.
Does this sound personally and deeply familiar? If so, allow me to share how we head off these two frustrating circumstances.
Those sales scenarios we describe above have a root cause that begins with the decision to hire a sales force. Most businesses immediately look for sales people within their own network – searching for people with industry experience, or experience in a sales role. Not a terrible idea. Just not where we start.
In building a sales force, begin with a thorough job analysis– answering questions centered on “The Three C’s”: Customer, Culture, and Character.
- Are you building a sales team to sell to your existing customers or a new target market?
- What is the professional day like for your buyers?
- In what context are you relevant to the buyer?
- What does it take to reach these customers?
- Where are they searching for answers or information to make decisions?
- What is the typical level of expertise or education level your buyer has regarding your product or industry?
- What kind of organization are you building?
- How independently will your sales team need to work?
- Will your sales team interact with your entire organization or contribute to the overall culture?
- What is the future growth mindset of the organization and how do new sales hires fit that vision?
- What kind of support will your organization give to the sales team and their efforts? (Marketing, lead generation, sales administration, operations, et cetera)
- What cognitive skills are key for this role and how do you evaluate them?
- Do they have previous experience that aligns with your target customers?
- Do they have an existing network to help close the prospecting gap?
- What personality traits are necessary?
- For the buyers (highly perceptive, diplomatic, collaborative)
- For the pace of the sales cycle (fast pace, learns quickly, steady, consistent, or persistent)
- For cohesion with the culture and existing team? (high energy, independent, collaborative)
Before you start looking to hire someone and get stuck with just anyone, conduct a thorough Job Analysis to determine not just what you’re looking for in a sales candidate, but how your sales program will grow and progress – how the sales organization fits into your existing business and future vision.
There are many types of sales infrastructures, compensation plans, and sales roles. Strategically plotting the sales program so the strategy aligns with your hires and execution plan will save you much time and frustration (not to mention gray hairs and MONEY).
This type of assessment is usually difficult to do from within the organization. You, as the owner are busy wearing a dozen hats and “Sales Director” is probably the last hat you put on and the one you wear the least. Combine that with myopia about our own businesses and customers and you get a short-sighted, half-baked strategic picture.
Even if you don’t pursue additional help with the strategy and sales process execution, if you’re struggling with your existing sales team or perplexed about how to build a successful sales organization, get an outside perspective to complete a Job Analysis that sets you up to add the right talent to your team.
Until next time, stop hoping, start SELLING!
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