It doesn’t matter whether you have a product, a service or an online platform, you need sales professionals to develop your business and retain your current client base. In a time where there are more options than ever before and your competition can probably offer a similar solution, how do you differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack?
The simple answer is a good sales team and an even better customer service team. Unlike finance, engineering or even HR, sales professionals cannot be vetted by a degree or previous experience (in most cases). It’s a personality trait that makes a good sales person. It’s someone with a high level of emotional intelligence, someone that has the ability to excite you about something you might not care about and most importantly, it’s someone who understands your pain points and sells against that. The simple fact is that these type of job seekers ‘do not grow on trees!’
So what can we do to ensure that we attract these job seekers and more importantly retain them? Throughout my three years in recruitment, I have come to the following conclusions:
- The search:
Most of the hiring managers with whom I deal want someone with previous experience selling exactly same product/service they sell. This makes complete sense, as the induction period will be shorter and you will see a quicker return on your investment. However, the problem I have seen in the past is that the search parameters become so narrow, that you exclude talent who could pick up the product/service quite quickly and might even be better sales people. After all, we buy the person before we buy the product or the service. Also, do not hire job seekers for their networks, hire them for the industry knowledge and skill set. If a job seeker is willing to bring a client base from their previous business to yours, it’s likely that they might take this same client base from you too.
When adding to your sales team, hire the person which will enable you to see a return on your investment in six to nine months and not within the first three months. It is unrealistic in most cases to have someone walk into a new business, regardless if they have previous experience in the industry and show you a profit within a quarter. Set a target that is reachable. You will be surprised what that means to your new employee, and then of course, there is the culture aspect. Sales professionals are ‘different’ type of people. They require high levels of stimulation, they enjoy the hunt and they are typically quite sociable. Provide them with an environment where they are rewarded for their work. You don’t need to be ‘Google’, but in a time where your competitor has most likely thought about this, it would be silly for you not to.
Unlike some other roles, sales professionals have three core steps. Sales Representative, Business Development Manager and (after about six years in most cases), Management. It’s important for people to feel like they are working towards something. Offer a progression path, or if that is not possible, give them a financial reason to stay with you and your business.