Building a successful sales team is more important than ever as organisations fight for their survival. Su Askew, Founder & Consultant of GC Partner We Achieve, tells us why her image of an ideal salesperson was skewed and how organisations can go about building the perfect team.
Looking forward to some precedented times? Me too. It’s unlikely though I expect. What began as something we thought was a war effort; where we all worked together, it is now a longer altogether different game and no one is sure of the rules. This said there are a few certainties and one of these is that unemployment is continuing to rise flooding the talent pool with eager graduates and seasoned executives alike.
The smart organisations among us are not only looking at how they adapt their service or products to survive and grow stronger but they are also starting to look at who they have in their teams now and who they need as they plan for the future.
In many ways now is the perfect time to revaluate who does what job and why. In the sales manager roles I held there were always very clearly defined responsibilities; project managers were of a certain skill set and sales people were clearly identified too and we hired away in these guises confident that we knew what made someone good at that role.
The GC index® is an alternative lens to look at those skills and inclinations that we are so familiar with and is giving us a fresh canvass of what skills and strengths our teams have and how to get the best from them. I predict that many organisations will need people to be redeployed, this means retraining, we will also see some roles will become obsolete.
The perfect salesperson
Now is the time to look closer at what we have. For instance, I had always thought salespeople should be those go-getter types, able to handle constant rejection, made of buffalo hide. Otherwise who will ‘go out there’ and get the business. This is an Implementer proclivity for many – someone who is able to just get on the phone (or zoom) and sell regardless of the ongoing strategy or if something isn’t perfect…an unstoppable lead generating, proactive person.
I quickly learned that some of the greatest salespeople are those who are supremely diligent in the detail, listen hard to be sure they fully understand something and follow up – when they say they will, they follow a proven process. All the information is logged and nothing is sent to the client until perfect. These are Polishers at their best – and some clients absolutely love that.
If you believe that people buy from people they can rely on this is a great example. It’s a sombre thought to think of all the great sales people we have not hired because they were not like the thousands of other successful salespeople we had hired in the past.
Very few felt it was right to ‘sell’ during a crisis and pandemic, as time has gone on the pressure mounting that organisations must and need to begin to turn over more revenue to survive. Schools are back and it’s hi ho for the rest of us.
Organisations need to avoid focusing on stereotypes when they evaluate their sales teams otherwise they risk missing out on great talent.
Whilst we may need Implementers – those that will get out on with it and make money, who just pick up the phone and are quick to arrange meetings – this might not be right for every business or team. You may need someone in your team who can come up with new ideas to help secure the sale.
The constant change and need to innovate services and products means we need to look at the whole sales process and have a robust framework because the reality is a new idea or product that the Game Changers are busy generating mean nothing if no-one understands it. There is a need to be agile. We need the Strategists to come in to make sense of idea. But then we need to do something with this otherwise it just remains an idea – this is where Implementers come in and the Polishers look at ways to make it better and the Play Makers ensure we all work together cohesively.
Improving client & salesperson relationship
I also learned that you cannot always expect a client to work well with every sales person, sometimes they are not going to find it easy to work well together and produce the best results. There is a common goal that links them but getting there together can be a rocky road and have a negative impact on the client experience. So, what if you had a ways of viewing the way these two roles worked together- not just so they can understand each other and get along but to allow them to have proper impact in what they are aiming to deliver.
This renewed productivity and success should be well aligned to the strategy of the organisation also, it can be hard to get sales people to buy in to the wider strategy for your organisation or even the client when they have one goal in mind. So how do you help bring them along on the journey your business is embarking on as well as delivering their own quotas?
Sales people can be real Game Changers and innovators when they see what the clients need and have clear view of what the organisations can do they often offer great competitive game changing ideas, but these can cause friction in the organisation as they require more resource to make happen. How do you help harness that innovation to win new business? You need a view from The GC Index® to see how all this really works in the organisation and who are the people/departments to best deliver your competitive edge.
When you understand what impact your salespeople can have you have the ability to make better decisions, which will undoubtedly improve client retention, satisfaction and business results!