For many of us, amateur commentary and critique of ‘professional’ football is a national pastime. It’s a shame we don’t pay such close attention to our business. Take a moment to ponder this…….
·How would you feel about investing £millions in a new player for your team without having seen him play beforehand? ·Once player joined your team, how regularly would you want to see him play in order to assess his ability, strengths and weaknesses ? ·How personalised would his ongoing coaching be to ensure his fitness and skills continue to improve?
I can take a fairly accurate educated guess on your answers. So I’m wondering why we don’t apply same principal to our sales professionals?
·Why is it that companies continue to invest millions in a sales team in order to grow their business without ever really seeing sales people in action? ·Why are salespeople are rarely assessed and coached in field to improve their performance and thus maximise organisation’s return on investment? ·Why is it that there is little emphasis on improving skill and knowledge levels of salespeople other than, perhaps, a little ‘product’ training?
I saw an advertisement last week, which read ‘Sales Director wanted £28 million’. Although this appeared to be salary, it was of course, estimated cost to company were they to make wrong selection.
·Why are many senior management teams so cavalier about measuring real return on investment achieved by their sales team other than tracking revenue? ·Why don’t they understand where, and what added-value help is necessary to increase sales performance?
What do you know about standards of performance of your salespeople and will this be enough to achieve your corporate goals? Surely it is sheer madness to ignore part of your business that is potentially capable of generating such massive growth and profit both now and in future?
And so back to football Before purchasing a player you would study his track record. You would assess both his fitness and his, skills (such as passing, shooting, heading ball and his ability to accurately position and read game). Scouts and management would observe person playing prior to making such a huge investment. Judgements in relation to their ability to blend into team would be considered seriously, a thorough medical would take place and a contract negotiated.
Now let’s see what often happens in many UK organisations when it comes to selecting, managing and growing a successful sales team…….
New salespeople are often recruited from a steady stream of (often irrelevant) c.v’s from selected organisations which have a vested interest in placing their candidate. The interview process is often informal and based on ‘gut feel’ because sales managers performing interviews are unprepared, under time pressure and inadequately experienced in selecting top sales performers. A manager often interviews a candidate without ability (or recognition that it’s necessary) to match Knowledge, Attitudes, Skills and Habits of candidate with requirements of job. In addition, candidate is rarely evaluated in a real life situation – we don’t get to see ’player’ on ‘pitch’. Joint interviews of candidates are decreasing due to time pressures. Proof of previous sales performance, P60 supporting evidence of past earnings and, perhaps most surprising, references, are seldom requested.
Very often, end result is selection of wrong candidate which then takes many months to become apparent. By which time of course, you’re stuck with problem of reversing your expensive decision with employment law and numerous other ramifications to consider.
The lynch-Pin Point
In this age of internet isn’t it more cost effective to invest less cash on finding candidate while investing more in correct selection process? Recruiting wrong salespeople is extremely expensive, time consuming and unproductive so why do we not insist on a professional selection process in same way that football managers do?
Your new salesperson joins team………….
Once on board, our football manager would insist on continued meticulous screening in training and during match play whilst an on-going personal programme of coaching and improvement was agreed.
But our Managing Director………..
Gives new sales person a territory and a sales target based on organisation’s requirements (i.e. top down quota). The person may be given an induction programme and perhaps even some product training if he’s lucky. However, he seldom receives ongoing job assessment and coaching and 6 months later has, in all likelihood, still not benefited from a visit with his manager. The company management adds to this folly by implicitly supporting lack of standards of performance, systems and methodologies required to measure necessary quality and quantity of sales effort.
The boards of directors usually ignore these issues when markets are buoyant and business is going well. The reality is that in fact, they are missing £millions in lost opportunities. They then react in ‘panic mode’ when sales are decreasing which often results in new management appointments to allow same problems to occur once more -- only dressed in a different wrapper.