September 19th, 2009 09:57 EST
Finding, Keeping and Cultivating Top Sales Performers
It amazes me that so many businesses take their sales force lightly. Oh sure, they have some sort of idea as to how their salespeople should present themselves and act. They even spend time and money on sales training to help their team become efficient and effective. They give them quotas and territories, even, in some cases, expenses, draws, commissions, bonuses and sometimes salaries. Yet many businesses still approach their sales staff differently than their research and development folks, or their management and supervisory personnel and certainly their executive level people.
Recently I had the opportunity to meet with a colleague of mine and our conversation included a discussion about why most organizations have productivity problems in their sales teams. What most business entities fail to give themselves is a complete understanding of the position, it`s benchmarks, the type of individuals needed to fulfill the position for the highest and best return and a way to monitor their progress while mentoring and reinforcing the necessary skills.
The answers lay in what we referred to as the Total Solution Process.
And it`s a process that we use in addressing the entire picture.
Hiring, training and coaching/mentoring has to revolve around the culture of the organization which influences the interpretation of the position and colors the views of both the expectations of that position and the person whose job it is to fill.
Knowing that a company thrives on sales usually means that when that position becomes vacant there is a frantic push to fill the void. What often happens is that that void is filled by someone who hasn`t had a true understanding of the company`s philosophy and values and therefore may be selling from a diametrically opposed point of view than that of the company`s. Problem is, even the person doing the hiring doesn`t understand the philosophy. Which can easily lead to hiring the wrong person for the job. The candidate may seem to have all the bells and whistles, act like a great people person ", and look like a dress for success advertisement.
I`ve seen it countless times. The HR director or person in charge of the company hires someone who looks and sounds right for the job and who`ll work according to the compensation package that the company offers. Then the sales training begins. All kinds of techniques on how to get information from the client or prospect, build rapport, address the client`s or prospect`s needs or pains or whatever the jargon of the course is and finally how to close, even assure the close.
The fact is that until there is a total package you`re doing a one size fits all course in a not one size fits all world.
It`s important to understand the philosophies of the candidate, what his or hers attitude towards life is and why they want the job. How do they manifest their behavior?
How do they view the sales field and can they inherently close? All these questions and more lead to the ability to find the right person for the position within the parameters of where your company is and wants to go.
The wrong person doing the selling, even if the results seem to be ok, may be doing your business untold harm.
Formally assessing your candidates or people within the organization whom you feel can fill a sales position will enable you to have a clear picture before you offer them the job.
Sales skills, attitudinal and behavioral assessments give you a written understanding of many of the person`s soft skills, which in many cases transfers into the hard skills arena.
Of course, before you move your business in any direction you have to take stock into why you or the founders started the entity, where you see yourself and your business in the future and how you see yourself and it getting there. That takes thought and writing. Once you`ve done that it becomes easier to match the people to the entity and the position.
It also saves a lot of time and money. Now training, coaching and mentoring can become much more customized. The major areas can be covered in general sessions but the strengths and weaknesses of each person can be covered in tailored sessions that address the individual`s and the company`s needs.
Customized training and coaching goes to the heart of the issue. Make sure that you know each member of your sales force, including yourself, and approach the needs in a way that addresses the growth of your company. It is a process. And the best way to have a solution to the underachieving sales team is to figure out where they and you are coming from, where you want to go and what changes it`s going to take to get you, and each person on that team, to reach a successful outcome.
Sounds like a Total Solution Process to me!
Dan Goldberg is a keynote speaker and the President of Dan Goldberg Consulting, L.L.C. a training, coaching and business development firm located in the Philadelphia, PA area. He is the author of the book Lighten Up and Lead, " co-author (with Don Martin) of the book The Entrepreneur`s Guide to Successful Leadership, " and author of The Six Steps To Solid Sales Success " and The Seven Elements of Successful Management " programs and the audio tape Growing A Successful Business ". You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit his website at www.dangoldberg.com or reach him at (215) 233-5352