The challenge that many companies face today in recruiting sales talent is difficulty in getting the right candidate. Even if the right candidate is available, budgets may not permit recruitment. So, what is the solution?
Few companies known to me have taken a bold step of hiring freshers and grooming them up for sales positions. It is a win-win situation for company as well as the candidate. The company saves on recruitment costs and gets an opportunity to mold the candidate into the company culture. The candidates can shape up their career in sales from the entry level and can grow with the organization.
To ensure that the salespeople start selling independently, we need to provide them the necessary inputs and guidance. Let us look at them one by one.
Sales is the growth engine of every organization. It is important for salespeople to have a clear idea of their role & responsibilities with a big picture view of the overall business. They should understand different structures of business and how organizations and business work. Understand the strategic planning, prioritization, and goal setting processes. Understand roles of the various functional departments that may exist within organizations, and how they interrelate.
They also need to understand the ecosystems of how businesses work and relate to each other, understand total value chain from supplier through company through customer through end consumer.
(ref: Sales Manager Survival Guide by David Brock)
There is a big list of sales skills and it is rare to find an individual who has mastered all. It is recommended that natural strength areas be developed further & weak areas be identified and improved upon in a structured way. Here is the list:
· Time management
· Objection handling
· Staying organized
· Emotional intelligence
· Situational awareness
· Read & understand body language
· Interpersonal/relationship building
· Planning/territory management
· Story telling
Please check out my previous blog on the topic to learn more. https://www.actins.in/post/interested-in-becoming-a-happy-and-successful-b2b-salesperson.
Sales process, Planning & Execution
It is important for the salespeople to understand that selling is a process. It is also recommended that each company have a well-documented sales process that is followed by every individual in the team. It is essential for success.
A generic sales process for a company in the engineering/capital goods sector includes the following steps:
• Lead generation
• Submit quotation
• Technical Discussion/objection handling
• Commercial Discussion/objection handling
• Order closing
• Purchase Order and Order Acceptance
• Payment collection
• Follow up
Salespeople need to plan every step in the process in detail and execute meticulously.
Targets & Achievement
Sales is a numbers game. Every person in the team has an individual target and the performance can easily be measured by comparing achievement versus the target. It is important for the individuals to understand the following aspects for success.
Understand stage-wise conversion ratios and how to use the sales pipeline to work out the projection for a certain time-period. Also identify stages where additional efforts are needed to strengthen the pipeline.
2. Account/territory planning
Based on the pipeline, effective planning for covering the territory and customers must be mapped out. Field visits need to be planned efficiently keeping the cost factor in mind.
3. Sales calls – preparation
Ensure that every sales call, whether physical or virtual is taken up only after a thorough preparation.
It should start with clarity on the purpose of the call and should include an agenda with structure, knowledge about customers, their company & industry, product, application & process, likely questions with answers. The intention should be to add value in every call to give the customers a good return on their time invested.
4. Reporting & Reviews
Salespeople need to be clear on how they need to report their day-to-day activities and what review mechanism is in place to measure their performance and provide them with guidance on their efforts.
5. Personal Development
Even in a B2B scenario, it is people selling to people. The skills, knowledge and attitude of the salespeople can be a big competitive advantage that is difficult to replicate.
Companies need to think long term and help individuals realize the importance of behavior & attitude, time & activity management and build a culture that fosters continuous learning. All efforts need to be taken to inculcate right thoughts that will lead to happiness and success. Happy salespeople will bring happy customers.
Salespeople should have a good understanding of “marketing” as a function. They should be clear on what responsibilities are with the marketing team, what are the overlaps if any and how they need to align their work so that sales-marketing is a cohesive unit.
It is also important for them to understand the market – target market, industry segments, industry trends & growth potential, demand drivers, competition, market size & share and various marketing initiatives that will help them close more orders.
These are a few pointers to help companies in their induction process. As markets change and evolve, salespeople need to change.
Companies should approach induction with an open mind and provide all possible support to ensure that freshers start selling effectively & independently.