Research done by a US human resources potential measurement company, which has been looking at data from the past 35 years, revealed that the sales representative, especially in distribution, has become the sole reason (39%) why customers buy. No other element, such as product, quality or pricing, comes close to the impact of the human factor.
The steps needed to build a world class sales team are not easy. It requires concentration, discipline and desire to continuously adapt. Thirty-five years of research in sales have revealed that only 21 companies are seen as having top sales teams by their customers. Representatives from these companies stated that they have focused more on team and distribution than on fabrication. The explanation for this phenomenon is that not the product is central, but the relationship between the client and the sales person. This experience can be a real competitive advantage.
- Why is sales talent so important?
- Turnover is expensive! The rate of failure for sales agents is 40%.
- The average term for a sales manager is larger than 2 years.
- Inappropriate hiring can cost up to 6 monthly salaries for the employee in question.
- A natural born sales person will attract enthusiastic clients which will attract other clients.
Sales techniques are varied, which poses the question: are sales art or science? It is important to have a sales scenario which can be used repetitively and which is rigorously applied. Variables must be reduced to a client approach formula. Sales performance must be closely monitored, while making sure that objectives are correctly established and communicated to sales agents.
According to Professor Ken Morse, co-founder of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and Business Mentoring Programmentor, a recruitment sheet for a sales position should include the following:
- Experience – How does the candidate’s background look like? The best indicator for success is previous performance.
- Responsibilities – What are your sales objectives? (target, lead generator, new clients, upgrading payment methods, etc.)
- Competence – Establish basic competencies required to reach your objectives, such as prospecting, negotiating, abilities in manipulating objection and justifying costs, generating leads.
Ken says that talented sales agents can be recruited from clients, representatives of organizations which operate in the same field, potential investors, current investors, consultants, or from recruitment agency data bases.
He defines the ideal profile of a CEO as leader of a sales team. He has to put the client first, doing everything he can to ensure that the promise of creating value is upheld. He has to be a magnet for his team, to motivate and retain talented players. He has to lead through example, to do his job and to prove that he is involved in achieving results. He has to encourage dialogue about market evolution, client status and processes. Last but not least, he needs integrity, intelligence, energy and confidence.
An organizational culture focused on the client is essential if a company is to achieve success. It defines client behavior, establishes product or service advantages, reward policy, client loyalty, as well as discovers new client needs.