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Composition of an Army: Composition of a Sales Force
Blog / Sales Management / Jun 6, 2017 / Posted by Nikolaus Kimla / 4468 

Composition of an Army: Composition of a Sales Force

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What kind of people do you really need on your sales force? Let’s continue in our current series of lessons, and have a look back at the composition of the Continental Army fighting for American Independence, and the British army at the time.

I pointed out at the end of my last post that what an organization–or, obviously, a government–needs is a fighting force that is following a purpose.

Recruiting an Army

Of course, before you have a team you must have someone to lead it. In the case of the Colonies, they chose George Washington. It wasn’t because of his record as an officer in battle–his record wasn’t all that remarkable. He was actually chosen as commander-in-chief more for his capabilities in handling people. He had the military experience necessary to lead an army, but most importantly he had charisma, the bearing of a military leader, and was an avid patriot.

If you were to start a company today, you would of course want to hire the best people. This would require that you pay for them, in some cases handsomely. George Washington didn’t have that option, as his fledgeling government and army was all but broke. The only choice open to him was to recruit personnel that were dedicated to the cause.

Lack of a Cause

We see here that there are 2 basic types of personnel: those that would follow a cause, and those that you must pay well because pay is all they’ll accept.

This leads us to an interesting question: Why does the average salesperson only last about 2 years in a company? Why do they give up so early? Why is turnover so high? Is it because they’re not performing? Did they all get shot in battle?

In my opinion, it once again comes back to the widespread lack of cause in a company. A company without a cause can be departed just as easily as it is joined. One is just as good as another. When a company fits the salesperson’s personal agenda, it fits, and when it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit.

Loyalty

Loyalty today has virtually disappeared. Why? Because given the over-commoditization of products and services, there is also no loyalty from customers to companies. In the old days customers were loyal to such things as the make of a car. They would always buy the same brand. Today, people are not loyal to any brand, especially when a brand can be so easily substituted and replaced.

Airlines do their level best to retain customers through programs such as Miles and More. But as a customer this kind of locks you into a particular airline or group of carriers–otherwise you’re never able to upgrade.

The only choice left to companies that don’t offer such programs is to offer excellent service. This presents the customer with value. When customers are regularly receiving value, they are less likely to change vendors. Otherwise–as we can see all too easily by looking around the commerce landscape–the customer will just go elsewhere because it really doesn’t matter.

Back to the Revolution

Let’s look back at the Revolution, because the King of England was faced with a similar problem. He didn’t have enough soldiers to fight the revolution, and ended up hiring mercenaries–the Hessians–at an exorbitant cost. When you’re paid to fight for someone else, what cause are you fighting for? Simply your pay. It’s an awfully low motivation. If for whatever reason the money dries up, the soldier is out of there.

The Colonists didn’t have money to hire soldiers. But they had the cause–and for it many of them gave their lives.

If you have a sales force that is perhaps not that expensive but driven by a cause, you have committed people. This is far superior to paying a lot of money to people who will move on just as soon as they see a better paycheck. They’re only tied to their income, not to what they want to achieve.

The lesson that we can learn from the War of Independence is that there will always be organizations who only pay, and people will fight for them or sell for them. Or, you have an organization that has a cause and perhaps less money, and people hire on and work hard for that cause. As we saw with the Continental Army, the cause was all they had. They were seriously lacking in money, food, weapons, and uniforms. People were willing to fight for something bigger and even die for it. In such a situation you will win, because this is the bigger cause.

The Example of Pipeliner CRM

I believe in this so strongly that I didn’t just create a cause for Pipeliner–it is totally built on a cause. It is built on the cause of sales empowerment.

We believe that every person who is willing to learn to be a salesperson can be a salesperson. There is a myth out there that “you have to be born a salesperson” and some companies are looking only for those. These types of individuals are like the ones in famous movies (such as Wolf of Wall Street, Boiler Room, and Glengarry Glen Ross). But this, in my opinion, is a totally incorrect mindset.

What does it really take to be a salesperson? It simply starts with the decision to be one, and it goes from there. The tools of the craft are all out there to be learned. It’s just like the Revolution–the Redcoats were attacking and needed to be fought. Each man in the Continental Army had to decide to fight, and then they went off and did so.

Given all that that we’ve gone over here, what kind of team should you select? If you have a look at my ebook Leading from the War Room: Building a Battle-Ready Sales Force, specifically at Chapter 1 A Competent Fighting Force, you’ll find that who you hire only depends on the type of strategy you have–are you going to train, or are you out to hire experts?

And of course–have and maintain a cause for everyone to follow.

Pipeliner CRM greatly assists with forming up a competent sales force. Get your free trial of Pipeliner CRM now.

    About Author

    A 30-year veteran of the computer industry, Nikolaus has founded and run several software companies. He and his company uptime iTechnology are the developers of World-Check, a risk intelligence platform eventually sold to Thomson Reuters for $520 million. He is currently the founder and CEO of Pipeliner Sales, Inc., developer and publisher of Pipeliner CRM, the first CRM application aimed squarely at actually empowering salespeople. Also a prolific writer, Nikolaus has authored over 100 ebooks, articles and white papers addressing the subjects of sales management, leadership and sales itself.

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