A recent article in the Harvard Business Review reports on current research into teamwork. It seems that the fault may lie more with managers who do not know how to get the best out of their teams rather than the team members themselves.
I'd like to share the benefits of my 30-year experience in sales and marketing with you. This series of blogs tackles 6 of the top sales management challenges with sound advice and a practical 'do today' tip.
Sales Challenge #2: Considerations for building the right team
Whatever you are selling requires the right team to maximize its sales.
Are you ...
selling a commodity or a solution?
selling to accounts where you are upselling and cross selling?
selling new business into new name, "new logo" accounts?
selling a product that takes hours to sell or months?
selling locally or nationally or internationally?
Not every salesperson is suited to every type of sale.
Given the choice, I would do new business rather than manage accounts. It suits my temperament (and I really don't mind cold calling!) but this does not suit everyone.
Consider: How long is your sales cycle?
Many sales people need the constant motivation of getting orders every day. Others don't mind a longer sales cycle, and in fact, prefer getting one big order every so often--usually it's less paperwork to contend with!
Some sales folks enjoy the technical challenge of selling solutions and writing detailed proposals and RFP responses and all that entails whilst some people are happy just quoting and selling commodities.
As Lord Alan Sugar once said, "Pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap." (For my non UK audience, he is the businessman that did the UK version of The Apprentice).
Consider your customers: who are you selling to, at what level do you need your salesperson to operate, and what does the customer expect?
We worked on a project a couple of years ago to develop a global account process for a client selling in the credit card sector. For the position of 'Global Account Director' (aka salesperson) for one account, we hired an ex-divisional GM - that was the level of experience it took to manage the account to the level the customer wanted.
Here is the point I am getting at: when it comes to sales people, one size does not fit all and while that seems like a blinding glimpse of the obvious, you would be surprised at just how often sales managers hire a mismatched sales person for the job.
No point whatsoever (well, rarely) hiring an account manager to do new business or a new business hunter to manage accounts. Biggest mistake we see is a sales guy used to getting lots of orders at a [comparatively] low value being given a job selling a few orders at a high value.
Do-today Tip #2: Create a person profile to go with the job description when you are hiring. Use some tools to ensure the person is matched to your specific sales role and the temperament the role needs, not just the skills. Brief your recruiter or HR professional about the 'type' of salesperson you need--a hunter, a farmer, a solution seller, a commodity seller, a collaborative seller.
Next time, we'll take a look at how to choose the right spot on the
'sales management continuum' to get your sales management style right to match the team.
Read more: see my last blog CREATING CLEARLY DEFINED SALES PROCESSES AND SALES OBJECTIVES
Is Building the Right Sales Team a challenge for your orgainzation? What have you been doing about it? How has that been working out for you? Like an answer to a question? Our readers would love to hear your thoughts and help with your queries. Comment below to start a dialog.
Sales Management Challenges: 1 of 6 - How to Create Clearly Defined Sales Processes and Sales ObjectivesJune 23, 2017
Read Forbes, Fortune, or any other top sales and business publication. What will you find? Articles about the top sales challenges commonly faced, no matter which product or service you are marketing.
I'd like to share the benefits of my 30-year experience in sales and marketing with you. This series of blogs tackles 6 of the top sales challenges with sound advice and a practical 'do today' tip.
Sales Challenge #1: How to create clearly defined sales processes and sales objectives
If you don't know where you are going, you are almost certainly not going to get there.
Sales organizations need a road map--the sales process; you need to know what you need to do at each stage of the process, what KPIs to expect at each stage, and how to get sales opportunities through the process from lead to closure.
Then, your sales organization needs to follow that process (preferably mapped in CRM) so you can measure and report on each stage of the sale.
Likewise, for each deal, there is a need for a clearly defined sales objective--what are you selling, for how much, and when.
Do-today Tip #1: Build yourself a dashboard so you can track who has got what in the pipeline, what stage it is at and that the KPIs are being met.
Next time, we'll take a look at how to build the right team.
How has your organization been dealing with this challenge? Have a great story or hot tip to share? Any questions? Our online community looks forward to reading your comment or answering your question below.
Having been in the sales business for a long, long time, having trained literally thousands of salespeople, having sold and trained around the world, I am often asked "Has selling changed over the years?".
Well, if you were to read one of the most famous sales books ever, Dale Carnegie's, "How to Win Friends and Influence People", and you read the first few paragraphs without reading the preface, you'd think, "Hmm... this is quite relevant today." Then, when you do read the preface, you'd see that this book was first published in 1936.
So - has selling changed? Fundamentally no, its been fine tuned, the techniques have been renamed a few times and some have been dropped. What has changed is buying.
It used to be that the seller controlled the selling and the buyer controlled the buying. Then, along came the Internet, the information age and social media. Selling was turned on its head because now, a much better informed, much better educated prospect can control the buying process and selling process, too.
Let's take a look back.
Up until the early 2000's, a professional, solution salesperson (in simplified terms) identified prospects, motivated them to engage, built rapport, skillfully asked questions, identified needs, presented solutions, handled objections and closed the deal. Buyers were not particularly savvy about what they were buying. They wanted information and they wanted choice. They wanted to buy from someone whom they could trust.
Solution selling, B2B selling, was about personal relationships - prospects were buying trust first and product / services second. Sales people were "information providers" practicing "personal selling", gaining trust to make decisions easier for the prospect.
Very early into the new millennium there was a paradigm shift.
There was increased competition in just about every product, service and market sector you can name (B2B and B2C). There was more choice than ever. The Internet and increased competition drove prices down (and margins!). More sophisticated solutions had more impact (negative and positive) across entire organizations. Now, with more information more readily available, multiple decision makers were becoming more involved in more decisions. Enterprise selling was the order of the day and "the Internet changes everything" rang only too true.
Many salespeople, hitherto successful salespeople who had been using traditional 'tried and trusted' solution-selling skills, found themselves struggling in this new enterprise environment.
Then, in the late 2000's the market place was turned upside down.
Globally, there was a low growth environment. There was considerable cost scrutiny applied to just about any purchase for anything. Organizations were barely buying necessities, let alone niceties. Simultaneously, social media started gathering real momentum, putting information and tools at the fingertips of buyers.
This meant that buyers did not need to engage with salespeople to get information. They did not need to build a simple, trusting relationship with a salesperson to make a wise decision. They merely jumped online and asked their peers what they thought. When they finally called in the salesperson, the decision was nearly made. The buyer - seller engagement was for the purpose of, literally or figuratively placing the order.
For more complex purchases the customer still wanted a relationship with the salesperson but not simply one where they trusted the salesperson for good information. They wanted advice and input from the relationship; they wanted a problem solver. They wanted the salesperson to challenge and contribute, not simply present solutions and offer choices. The salespeople who emerged and had enjoyed success during the recession and into the second decade of the millennium were professionals who had gained insider status and built symbiotic relationships (the customer and the salesperson can't live without each other). They were the professionals who created demand for what they sold; they didn't simply service demand.
These professionals, whom we call "Power Base Sellers", not only delivered value but they delivered unexpected value - value that the customer did not realize was attainable.
They created and executed strategies that ethically, quickly and professionally differentiated their solutions from their competitors' in ways that benefited the customer, enabling those customers to make faster, more beneficial decisions. Basically, the Power Base salespeople let the competition defeat themselves. In so doing, these salespeople did not just build relationships, they delivered personal value to their contacts (the decision makers and the decision influencers) that gave those contacts a (positive) political advantage, often advancing personal agendas and careers.
So, has selling changed? For many people it has not but buying has changed considerably. So, sales folks who have not changed with the times are getting left behind. How you sell has to change. Your competitive advantage has to come from how you sell, not what you sell.
OK but in plain language, has selling changed? Yes, it has. Buyers want an advisor who will solve problems, not an information provider who can offer options. In short, they want 'Power Base Salespeople'.
In my next blog, I will talk more about Power Base Selling and how you can develop your sales technique in this direction.