In terms of professional development there are is group more proactive than Marketers. This can be seen in the amount invested by companies and individuals in Marketing Qualifications, something we see firsthand at Professional Academy with CIM Marketing qualifications being our largest student body, but a highly trained and creative marketing team supporting an ineffective sales team is very much like having a lovely cart without a horse to pull it.
Many companies, especially SME’s and start ups will amalgamate their sales and marketing roles into one complete role but as anyone who has ever juggled these two roles will tell you, you can never truly master either whilst tackling both. The two disciplines are very different which is nicely summed up by Leslie McClintock for smallbusiness.chron.com:
“While it is sometimes difficult to draw the line at where the marketing process ends and the sales efforts begin, the sales effort is the effort that actually collects the money -- or the obligation to buy, in the case of a purchase order or financed arrangement. The marketing effort creates favourable conditions for the sale to take place. In a nutshell, the marketer leads the horse to water; the sales team makes it drink.”
Though in principle having the same person doing the leading of the horse as the drink suggestion sounds logical, it can be a huge task and one that will only continue to grow as your business does the same. The only logical step for any business is to have a dedicated sales person/team to work with a marketer or marketing team.
So once a company recognises the need for a sales role or a complete sales team to aid continued expansion what are they looking for exactly? What is the definition of a good sales person and a strong sales team?
First you have to define what the Sales person/team is for your business. This can actually be very simple as for nearly all businesses sales is the first point of actual verbal or physical contact for a customer. Marketers spend a lot of time and money on trying to communicate with the ideal audience but chances are the first time a customer talks to your company is when they wish to buy something, obtain a service or ask a question about a product and 90% of the time the person they will end up speaking to will be a sales person. The better the sales person, the better that interaction will be, this then increases the chance of a sale, up sell or even repeat business.
So what makes a good sales person? Confidence, a positive attitude, great project knowledge and a belief in the company’s values are all key skills for a sales person to possess and in some ways these are skills developed over time sometimes before even setting foot in a sales office but building a sales team can sometimes be a tad more difficult. So what makes a good sales team?
The experts at salescareers.about.com looked at the sales team in the same way most coaches would look at a strong sporting team:
“When it comes to the individual team members, good sales teams are filled with professionals who simply make other members better. Think of any great professional athlete that makes the others on his team perform better and, as a result, the entire team is more successful.”
Some of these traits will also exist before a person starts working in sales but these traits can also be trained into a group of individuals turning them in to a strong sales force. If the people in your team have the key characteristics that help with being a great sales person they should also be open to the idea of training and development so they can become the best sales person possible.
How do you get these strong sales people? How do you build your company growing sales team? For this there are two options really; Recruit the best or create the best through training.
The more cost effective of these two methods is in fact training. If you were to go out and head hunt the best sales people around you will find yourself paying a premium. Sometimes this may be what you want, the results are quicker but are these people as dedicated to your company as those who you have raised through the ranks? Will you find yourself in a recruitment cycle hiring the hired guns of sales on a yearly basis?
If your company chooses the training route it opens two options – firstly you can recruit enthusiastic people from different backgrounds to bring new life experiences to your company which allows your company to develop depth and a unique personality and you can also hire these people based on other key qualities away from sales experience. Secondly you can promote from within. Some of the best sales people we have met over the years have been charismatic engineers or developers who have not only the in-depth product knowledge but a passion for the company they work for having seen it from a different view point to other sales people. The combination of these two options will give you a varied team that you can train to support each other, using each other strengths to build a solid sales unit – coupled with the sales training and a love for the company you will find yourself with a sales team the envy of your industry.
So what are the barriers to starting sales training for your company? Time? Capital spend? Worried about ROI? Well Leslie McClintock also mused on this in her article for smallbusiness.chron;
“Many companies under-invest in their sales effort, treating sales like an afterthought, to be handled after the managers solve all the manufacturing, distribution and financing issues. The best sales forces are professional, well-compensated, supported with a strong marketing effort and empowered to act, serving key client interests with marketing support, money and time. They have strong personal relationships with key customers, or they learn how to build them.”
Should you really be under investing in a key component in your business, the element generating physical sales, putting the proverbial cash in the bank? With the in-company training options out there you should be able to find a training partner to match your company ethos, fit your budget and be flexible to your companies time scales. There are also accredited pathways from the Institute of Sales & Marketing available for individuals wishing to develop their own sales potential and for companies looking to not only develop a strong sales team but also motivate team members with the accolade of a qualification from a nationally recognised awarding body specifically focused on Sales.
If you are ready to invest in training your sales team I would urge you to look at the qualifications offered by the ISMM. These range from basic telesales skills all the way to strategic sales planning qualifications and really do focus on bringing the best out of sales people. Once you know what you are looking for look in to an in-house training partner who matches your companies needs and can tailor the qualification pathway and content to match your specific needs. We really cannot stress the importance of an excellent sales team enough but we will leave the final words to CA Technologies writing for mspmentor.net in December of last year;
“Sales and revenues are too critical to leave to chance, guesswork or wishful thinking. Sales efforts are also far too important to leave to part-time staff or a single executive. For service provider businesses to succeed, they need an effective and dedicated sales team. Quite simply, executive leadership needs to make sales a priority, build a strong team and put them in a position to succeed.”
If you wish to find out more about Sales Qualifications, the ISM or In-House Sales Training please feel free to get in touch with Professional Academy and we would be more than happy to help find the right training solution to match your needs.