Recently I’ve observed that many sales organizations’ sales problems are really more of a talent problem. It’s not just that they don’t have enough top-producers or true sales hunters, it’s that they haven’t done the hard work to truly define the sales roles in their business.
A salesperson is not a salesperson is not a salesperson. There are as many different types of sales roles as there are colors of Crayons. The route guy. The territory manager. The servicer. The inside prospector. The outside big game hunter. The sales engineer. The industry specialist. The pure business development person. The merchandiser. The account manager. The retail floor person. The ___________.
Not to go all Jim Collins on you, and I promise not to use the word “bus,” but these are some of the questions I’ll ask executives when trying to get a handle on sales talent issues:
- How clearly defined are your sales roles?
- How many different roles/jobs are there?
- Do you have the right people in the right roles?
Before I expand on that last question in particular, take two minutes to watch this excerpt from a live web-video conversation I had with several sales guru friends – including Mark Hunter who is featured here. We were having a roundtable discussion about sales talent, sales DNA and who wins and who doesn’t when it comes to developing new business.
So, let me ask again: Do you have the right people in the right roles? Do you have hunters hunting? Service-type people servicing? Engineers doing engineering? Relationship managers managing relationships? Does the DNA of the people you have in these various positions align with the requirement of the job?
Are those silly questions? At first glance they sure seem silly. But the if executives over sales organizations would step back and truly ask and thoughtfully answer these questions, we’d solve a whole lot of sales problems in a hurry. It might even cost me some consulting business. The harsh truth is that there is more sales talent misalignment, in companies big and small, than anyone wants to admit.
Senior executives and sales managers: How long has it been since you truly took a look at the talent requirements for your various sales positions? Do you even have various positions or do you simply deploy an all-in-one, hybrid, jack-of-all-trades sales job? And if that’s the case, how is that working out for you?
Take one more look at the woman with the bow pictured above. Would you want her playing customer service agent? I didn’t think so. It’s also a safe bet that if you put that bow in the hands of one of your kindest, gentlest relationship managers they wouldn’t even know what to do with it. But that is exactly what is happening on way too many sales teams today. Not only do the poor results show it, but all these misaligned people are miserable, too.