Commentary & Analysis
Is Your Sales Team Holding You Back?
I frequently hear that incumbent sales people are inhibiting a company’s ability to introduce new products and services and are increasingly resistant to prospecting for new business opportunities. As the role of the sales professional continues to evolve we need to rethink our pre-conceived paradigms regarding what top performing sales professionals look like. A carefully designed strategy for attracting, recruiting and selecting sales talent is an essential component to building a sustainable business.
By Jerry Scher
Published: May 14, 2013
How’s your progress going with redefining your business? Have you been able to identify what you would like your business to look like five years from now? Are your sales currently growing along with maintaining an acceptable profit level? Earlier this week Dr. Joe Webb’s commentary on Q1’s revenue results were not very exciting and quite frankly all indicators continue to support the notion that in order to build a sustainable business in the graphics communications industry one must:
- Embrace new products, services and strategies
- Develop a myriad of resources to support this change
- Find and develop new markets and clients
A wide range of experts will tell you that you need a plan; a well-developed strategy that’s created with input from a broad group of stakeholders, including your employees, so the ultimate vision becomes a shared vision, one resulting in an aligned, supportive workforce. Considering that your current and future workforce will be charged with executing your strategy, one must carefully consider whether or not you’re current team represents the best talent necessary to execute at your level of expectation.
In a recent article -The Goal Revisited , John Braceland, Graphic Arts Alliance, shared his thoughts about The Theory of Constraints which focuses on three areas that must be controlled in all organizations:
- Throughput – rate that the system is used to generate money through sales
- Inventory – all the money invested in purchasing items that will be sold
- Operational Expense – all the money used to turn inventory into throughput
While many organizations within our industry appear to perform reasonably well with constraints two and three, it is becoming increasingly obvious that constraint number one – throughput is a source of considerable frustration. As the ink-on-paper market continues to struggle and new products and services are required to expand revenue, sales people are being challenged. They must become experts in new product/services areas, expand their relationships with multiple client contacts, leverage rapidly changing technologies for marketing, business generation and retention all while working collaboratively with a team of support staff, no longer operating as the lone ranger. Based on continuous research in the field it is quite apparent that a large percentage of the legacy sales people employed within our industry are not prepared to transition to the new role and therefore are becoming an inhibiting factor to future business development and growth.
In a recent blog – Why Top Sales People Will Be Unemployed in Two Years the author suggests that as the buying environment continues to change and sales people don’t evolve, large numbers of them will no longer be employable. So how do we as business leaders address this challenge? Some will suggest that we invest heavily in re-training our current sales people. While that may work with some of the legacy sale people in our industry, I fear that far too many of them are actually not suitable for the next generation, graphic communications sales role. And quite frankly too many are resistant to the changes that are required.
I would like to suggest a three –tiered approach in addressing this challenge. But first you must carefully define the job - taking into consideration who they will be selling to, what products/services they will be selling, who else in the organization will be involved in the sales process and how you plan to compensate the sales team. Once this task is completed I strongly recommend that you establish a structured approach to attracting and selecting the most appropriate talent. This approach should incorporate three primary components:
- Eligibility – refers to a complete description of the past experience, education, knowledge, network, certification, industry knowledge and any other pre-requisites you deem necessary.
- Suitability – refers to the personality and behavioral competencies, work preferences and interests that you believe are critical to achieving success in the position. It is extremely important that you identify the traits that are appropriate for each job and leverage the available technology to assess existing sales people and of course the candidates you are considering for the position.
- Interview – as a critical component of this three-tiered approach, your team must develop a much higher level of competence when it comes to interviewing candidates. This appears to be a significant weakness in too many organizations – how to construct and conduct an effective interview.
The costs related to hiring the wrong person for a job are well documented. You focus so much attention on improving process and controlling so many processes to improve efficiencies. Isn’t it time to improve your recruiting and hiring efficiencies as well?
If you would like more information about how to more effectively identify and select the best talent, contact Jerry Scher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-931-9291. For information about Harrison Assessments™ – the highly acclaimed assessment technology – visit http://peakfocus.harrisonassessments.com/index.html
Stay tuned to this continual series – as we continue to focus the challenges of building an effective team.