Right and here they are:
1) Recruit. 2) Incentivize. 3) Train. 4) Monitor.
No company can hope to build an effective salesforce and operate successfully unless these four components are inextricably part of the process. No two alone matter. No three alone matter. Four matter because they fulfill the various needs of the process, nourish and support the human and corporate elements, and most critically, they are interdependent upon each other.
Don’t cut corners unless you want to seriously slash the prospect of a successful end result and lose out on developing a team that kills.
Recruitment is where you look for the right people, how you look for the right people, what you say while you’re looking for the right people, and what takes place as you are assessing whether or not they are actually the right people.
The right people should be the easy part. You know your company, you’ve done your homework, and you know what operational personnel voids need to be filled. If you are not there yet, don’t start anything else until you are. You’ll waste your time and that of those applicants who could be terrific additions to your company — unless you scare them or piss them off by appearing undecided or confused.
When you are ready, don’t forget to humanize the process. Yes, resume scanning software, testing, and certain other human resources technologies may have a role, but even cumulatively, they are no more perfect than you are. And you’ve got your gut. Some of you more than others. Use it. Remember, (presumably) you will be targeting humans. Get a few good ones of your own by approaching them as one. And remember, effective recruitment is not asking canned questions — you’ll only get canned answers. When you ask the questions that matter to you and your company, don’t only think about the answers they are giving — but how they give those answers and how comfortable you are with that.
I’ve seen more mistakes made in developing incentives when hiring than perhaps anything else in the process. And not only is that understandable, this particular minefield greatly contributes to companies hiring me to help them navigate it.
It’s a pretty good bet you’re either of the school that wants to pay salespeople practically nothing and make them earn it — lest they sit on their respective keesters spending your money with no incentive to show anything for it, OR you throw money at the position because their professional pedigree seems to indicate they’ll be worth it. Yea, it’s going to be somewhere in between those, and it usually starts with a bit of a bigger picture.
If you’re serious about building your company, then absolutely recognize that you salesforce is the no-brainer-given that will get you there. But this is all more than the sum of its people. You are building a system that needs to work, really work, should the players change. To that end, be prepared to sacrifice some revenue to get it established. Successful companies don’t wobble all over the place trying to figure out how their sales department is supposed to work. They have sales MACHINES, juggernauts, formidable processes that operate effectively under a variety of conditions. You want that.
If my typing fingers could go hoarse from harping on this point, they would. Why would any company pay someone to represent it, be responsible for its revenue, and place them in front of the people and entities funding that company’s present (and potentially its future) without ensuring they are properly trained to do so? Why not just get a blind baby elephant all liquored up, stick your company’s logo and phone number on it, slap it on its ass, and let it run around all over downtown? At least with the elephant, you’ll probably get some publicity.
Training is critical and must be required. Determine what your salesforce needs to know about your company, what they’re selling, the competition, perceived competition (and why it may not be actual competition), technique, timing, protocol, and business etiquette. Be pumped and keep them pumped. And here is how to know if you are missing something critical: If you can make a sale that your salespeople can’t, show them how. Forcing your imitation on them is the sincerest form of self-flattery. Or something like that. Anyway, it works.
With effective recruitment, incentives, and training in place, it is critical to monitor how effectively it all works together. Today’s technology offers through it a vast number of ways to monitor sales results, and attempts, prospects, responses, volume, practically anything. But again, don’t ignore the human element: Have the salesforce meet, interact, share successes — and successful techniques — and struggles. Log what takes place to develop benchmarks, see how it all might be affected by economic periods, seasons, times of the year, or anything else that may even peripherally impact human behavior, company trends, and spending money in your direction.
In conclusion, and Abraham Lincoln absolutely did not mean for it to apply to this article when he said it, there is a quote of his that nonetheless fits:
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
There’s that four again. Think about it.
Frank Bastone can be reached at 718 662 8581, or schedule time for a chat here.