Why In The Heck Can’t I Hire Sales People That Can SELL
By : Ken Paskins -
This week’s post is from our Senior Partner Robert BuWalda
This is a nagging question for all companies, BIG and small and everything in between. It’s a more critical question for smaller companies and it’s one that can only be answered by strong, smart leadership. Remember, mine is the perspective of a highly successful executive in both Sales and Sales Leadership. I have a decades-long history of unprecedented achievement in this area. If you have any doubt of it, I encourage you to peruse and scour through my LinkedIn profile.
Sales and investing in sales is expensive. The faster you want to grow, the more you will need to invest. According to Gartner/CEB, companies should expect to put 10% – 50% of their revenue back into sales if they want to grow. All too often small companies shoot low when it comes to hiring salespeople, and that ultimately costs them greatly. If you make this same mistake, you will pay a very steep price. Sales is NOT where you ever want to skimp.
While all businesses struggle to grow sales, smaller companies have it five times harder for a few reasons:
- What they can afford.
- Who they will attract.
- How they elevate.
The impediment to growing sales is what type of talent your business is able to attract. WHO chooses to work with/for you? Do they fit the profile of the ideal candidate for YOUR business?
When you go out and spend a lot of money to hire a great salesperson, you are purchasing their experience and their skills. Make sure they fit into the already strong dynamic of your existing team. The next piece of your investment/purchase is effective onboarding and training. This usually takes the form of the time and energy your senior staff puts into getting the new person up to speed.
Two potentially huge issues often rise to the surface here. The first and most common: if you do not have a strong, solid Been-There-Done-That sales leadership (NOT management, LEADERSHIP – I’ll go into more about that next) you will not attract the best talent for your business. Superior talent is attracted to companies and cultures where they believe without a doubt that they will be able to use their skills and experience to be successful. That translates to working where the expectations are clear and reasonable, where the Leadership understands how to add value. Great talent will steer clear of leadership that micromanages. They want to go where they can both maximize their talents AND have a real shot at driving tangible results for the business.
Let’s talk a little bit more about the Sales Leadership person and/or team. Do you have a junior sales manager at the helm or do you have somebody with a proven track record of success? Are you a well-meaning owner with a great vision but no clue about sales? Any of these scenarios create a losing battlefield for your sales force and great talent will spot it a mile away. Furthermore, even junior talent with great potential will be looking for employment where they see future opportunities to learn and grow and round out their skills as a professional salesperson. If your company doesn’t present strong Sales Leadership, what you will attract is C level “talent”, i.e. the person that needs a job but has no real skills or potential in the long run.
As I’ve mentioned, superior talent will be looking for places where there is the potential for growth in their future, which brings me to my third and final point in this matter. How to elevate your staff once you’ve hired them (and retained them!) How do you groom great talent? With the right leadership in place, you’ll attract the perfect fit for your company. You’ll bring on strong junior talent and avoid the C’s. Excellent! Do you have the means to grow professional development? What training will you provide? What ongoing resources are there? What does the career path look like for your salespeople?
Formulas for Failure:
- Poor Leadership + Poor Talent = Poor Results
- Poor Leadership + Poor Talent + Great Training = Poor Results
- Poor Leadership = You will NOT attract Great Talent = Poor Results
Formulas for Small Company Success and Growth:
- Great Leadership + Great Talent = Great Results
- Great Leadership + Great Talent + Training = Great Results
- Great Leadership + Jr. Talent + Great Training = Great Results