One size does not fit all when it comes to building the right type of sales force for what you are selling; yet many professionals treat selling as a homogeneous skill set, expecting salespeople to be able to sell anything.
Another fatal mistake is to assume that industry experience and knowledge alone is all that is required. For too many years sales managers have had industry experience as their number one selection criteria for salespeople. The problem with this is that they usually get the same old people with the same old ideas and the same old results.
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The fact is we need to select salespeople to be fit for purpose.
We need to determine what we are selling first and to whom we are selling, only then we can select and develop the right level of sales capability needed to deliver what we are selling.
What are you selling?
- Unique solutions
- Specialised products and services
- Customised products and services
- Off the shelf products and services
Then, what type of sales force do you need to have?
- Unique Solutions – requires highly skilled sales professionals with excellent consulting skills, business acumen and know-how, and understanding of systems thinking. Salespeople have the ability to configure products and services to meet buyers’ unique expectations. They need to focus on risk management and value.
- Specialised products and services – requires highly technical sales specialists with in-depth knowledge of their products, services and systems, and business know-how. Salespeople can configure products to meet buyers’ expectations. They need to focus on the impact of the purchase.
- Customised products and services – requires technically competent salespeople who can facilitate the introduction of products and services into businesses. Salespeople have the flexibility and can configure products to a small extent. They need to focus on buyers’ perceptions of value.
- Off-the-shelf products and services – requires internal salespeople who can transact sales or automated DIY sales systems. Salespeople have limited flexibility. They need to focus primarily on product features. Buyers required little education. Products can be bought more than sold.
Depending on your business and sales strategy you may need one or more of these types of salespeople in your business. Your sales strategy and market segmentation analysis will inform you of what level of sales capability you need.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.