It is erroneous to think that technology has diminished the salesperson’s role . In fact, it just changed the way we sell. While there will always be a selective group of simple products that “sell themselves”, technology has made it clear that taking orders could be easily replaced with e-commerce. But with many innovative new complicated products and solutions, salespeople remain a big determinant of the company’s performance.
These new innovative solutions (products or services) have created a move away from simple transactional relationships and selling; instead, companies need to develop a consultative business relationships with clients, where salespeople often serving critical roles as stewards in such process.
No profession in business has a more complex reputation than sales. When we think of salespeople all kinds of contradictory ideas and images jangle in our minds. But in fact there are more lies told about sales than the truth told about this real profession.
This disrespect goes back to the fear of being pushed by salespeople for taking any decision even when we need/want to. In fact they are facilitators in such a step, but this makes us uncomfortable because it’s in our human nature to be more at ease while maintaining our own space.
But think about it, does keeping this space will be always to our benefit? In the early summer days, we have all stood on the edge of a cold water pool, eager to jump for a 1st swim but ‘afraid’ of the cold shock; until somebody suddenly pushes us in. Two possible reactions will rise up depending on the way we perceive this person:
- If he was a friend, we would scream, then enjoy the freshness and thank him deep inside, afterwards.
- If he was a stranger, we would feel the anger, and trespassing of our freedom and space. Thus our joy will be gone although it was our wish to start with.
The same applies to sales, if we trusted the salesperson and treated him/her as a friend, we would be happy on the long-term if he pushes us for a deal. Otherwise, we would repel and totaly forget the gain we would have been receiving. That is why good salespeople are called the unsung hero. To read the full article of this content please visit “SalesPeople: The Lies and Truth”.
As much as executives have built a disciplinary approach in not respecting salespeople that approach them, they fruition too in the field of not paying enough attention to their own sales organization as well. We are not saying that management doesn’t care about their sales performance, or their salespeople, but it’s the “how” part that counts. A recent blog published on Harvard Business Review brought my attention that such a game is common worldwide too.
- Companies devote substantial energy to recruiting the best sales talent in their organization, but when it comes to hiring sales managers, in common cases they simply promote their best salesperson for the job. Yet what it takes to succeed as a salesperson is very different from what it takes to succeed in the role of management. Refer to “The Role of a Sales Manager” article for more details.
- Most sales organizations put considerable energy to develop their salespeople’s individual performance, yet regrettably, they focus too little on transforming their sales organization.
Thus I thought of sharing some broader improvement plans to consider in transforming sales organizations instead of the commonly followed quick fixes:
- Build a Laser Focused sales strategy: that focuses sales effort on the right customer segments with only the targeted products.
- Define a sales structure and sales roles that enable effectiveness (high sales for the effort) as well as efficiency (low cost for the effort).
- Design a high-impact client-centric sales process, clearly mapped and structured to be well understood in order to bridge the gap between good salespeople and the middle performers.
- Set constant, challenging and well-understood sales force objective goals in order to keep salespeople engaged with the most lucrative and rewarding opportunities, while minimizing their frustrations.