- March 5, 2014
- Posted by: Dave Kurlan
- Category: Understanding the Sales Force
A couple of questions from the mail bag concerned finding that special someone; you know, “The One.”
In the first case, the client had hired a few salespeople who didn’t work out and wanted to know if Objective Management Group’s (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment was capable of identifying and recommending what they were calling a crusader. They believe that their business is different because people don’t know that they need what this particular company is selling.
Their business is different – a little – from most businesses, but certainly not unique by any definition. Most companies sell products and services to a saturated market – companies and consumers that already buy “stuff” like that and the only thing a customer or prospect must determine is which company they will buy from this time. A great example of this is your copier lease. At or before lease expiration, you will lease one or more new machines and the only decision that you might need to make could be to which brand, company or salesperson you will give the business.
There are also products and services that aren’t automatically purchased, with any regularity or certainty, by anyone. Budgets may not exist, they don’t appear as line items, and it’s quite possible that nobody has ever given it a thought. In most cases, when we recommend evaluating a sales force as a way to provide an executive the answers he needs to explain why performance isn’t where it needs to be and make the decisions to get the organization performing at a higher level, it’s the first time that executive had ever given thought to a sales force evaluation. In this case, it’s not “Who do we buy from?”, it’s “Do we buy?”, a completely different kind of sale. But like I said before, it’s certainly not unique.
So this company wanted a crusader, something OMG calls an evangelizer. That the company had little success before was only partly due to not having properly set its selection criteria. The other issue with small companies like this is that very frequently, they are not set-up in such a way that will support the hiring of new salespeople. Many small companies do not have sales managers, leaving the Presidents, CEO’s and owners serving in that role on-demand. New salespeople require knowledge, onboarding, training, coaching, direction, training, coaching, support, training, coaching, accountability and attention. (I know that there are 3 instances of training and coaching.) When sales management is provided only as required, new salespeople will take 3 times longer to ramp-up (now do you understand the importance of the 3 instances of coaching and training?) If they even survive that long.
The other mail bag question was from a Sales VP who had his final 3 candidates lined up. They had already completed comprehensive online applications, taken OMG’s Sales Candidate Assessment and were recommended, had been interviewed by phone and again via video conference by me, and had been interviewed via video conference a second time by the VP and Sales Director. Their final criteria for selection was about finding “the one.” I told them that “the one’ should never be the goal…nobody ever lives up to that label. After putting a candidate through all of those steps in the process, you already know they have the capabiity to succeed in this sales role. The final step is when it’s finally OK to choose someone you like. You should also be favoring someone who really gets what you do – who understands how to hunt for and create applications, relentlessly drives the sales process, and will get up to speed quickly. “The one” is probably earning $250,000 or more selling something more conceptual to CEO’s…
You can get sales selection right, but it takes the right process, tools, interviewing skills, and selection criteria. As with the sales process, you can’t skip steps, take anything for granted, or be too casual about your role in any part of the process.