Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what type of salesperson would succeed in your business and then know how to identify them? Over the years, much has been written about strategy and execution and the importance of having the right people to be successful. Is your organization starting to hire again as the economy continues to improve? As Jim Collins wrote in “Good to Great”, it is important to have the “right people on the bus.” There is no question, not much can be accomplished with the wrong people in place. The question is, “who are the right people and how do you know?”
Sales is sales is sales, right? Wrong! How many times have you hired a salesperson who was great in their last job, only to find out they couldn't handle the nature of your sales position? We believe there are two dimensions to selling: complexity and relationship, both lie within the context of the company’s strategy for going to market. What kind of sales do you do?
To answer this question let’s explore some different sales environments.
- What are your long-term and short-term sales strategies?
- How do you go to market? Are you the low cost provider, the innovator or is your strategy customer intimacy?
- Does this match the way your customers want to buy and the way your salespeople sell?
- Is your product line narrow and/or stable or broad and/or continuously changing?
- What is the buyer’s perception of personal risk associated with the buying decision?
- Are sales presentations scripted or highly creative, flexible and non-repetitive?
- Is the major buying decision factor factual, comparing price, feature, etc. or highly emotional?
- How much is your product or service differentiated from the competition’s?
- How does your reputation compare to the competition's reputation?
- Is your product or service standardized with little or no modification, or is there extensive adaptation and tailoring to meet client requirements?
- What is the learning curve in your business? Would someone new be self-supporting within three or four months or would it take longer?
- Do you sales people need to help create the buyer’s need or is it easily recognized and defined by the buyer?
- Is your sales cycle long, short or somewhere in between?
- How hard is it to get into see the people who will buy what you sell? Do they come to you or must you find them?
- How much prospecting is required of your salespeople? Do they have to continually be looking for new business or do they manage existing business?
- Do your salespeople act as lone rangers or are they expected to work in teams with others within your organization?
- Is your sale a single call close or does it require multiple calls at multiple levels?
- How much follow up is required after each sale? None or frequent calls?
- How important is the salesperson’s credibility to the success of a sale?
- How easy is it for the customer to place an order? Can they just call or is the salesperson’s assistance required?
- Is the major buying decision factor price or service?
All of these factors impact the kind of salesperson that is required for success in executing your sales strategy. Answering these questions will help you determine whether you need a Servicer, Advisor, Responder or Closer, and to what extent.
A Servicer is someone who acts as a “farmer”. Someone who thrives in building up business in existing accounts in less complex sales situations, where long term relationships are paramount to success.
An Advisor acts as a “farmer” in the more complex sales situations with long-term relationships. They are rewarded by their customer’s “Thank you’s.”
Responders are the “hunters” who work in less complex sales with lower relationship needs. They tend to make many calls on new projects and close business quickly.
Closers work well in complex sales situations with a little longer sales cycle but again with lower relationship needs. Responders and Closers love to go out and find new business. They love hearing “Yes.”
While it would be nice if the world of sales came with such definite requirements of the position, as the grid indicates, but there are the in-betweens, the people who need to be able to continually prospect for new customers while they maintain their existing customers.
As you work to define your new salesperson’s job description, think about how defining your organization’s sales process can go a long way in narrowing down your selection process. Know your product, sales cycle, go to market strategy and goals and you will be better suited for finding your next high-performing salesperson.