Sales roles vary widely and place very different demands on the people fulfilling them. Profiling your entire sales team prevents you from making all the obvious blunders in sales management, like confusing farmers, who work existing accounts, with hunters, who bring in new business.
However, before you even think about profiling your sales team, you have to have completed these five exercises:
1. Conduct a thorough market analysis
Look at the sectors you are targeting, including their size and growth rates as well as other characteristics. This will enable you to size the sales team correctly.
2. Identify target market and revenue potential
Compile a list of the major customer groups in your target market, and do a potential spend analysis on each one, so that you know how much time, effort and resources you are going to invest.
3. Describe the structure of your sales team
Typically, a sales team comprises a sales manager, assistant sales manager, team leaders and sales executives. You may also have strategic account managers, line of business managers, telesales people and more.
4. Match your team to the market
Define the size of your sales team in line with the needs of your target market and how you are going to achieve sales targets.
5. Develop the sales strategy
Successful strategies help the sales force focus on target market customers and communicate with them in relevant, meaningful ways to ensure customer acquisition and retention.
Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to allocate roles to your sales team. As you create a profile for each job within the entire sales function, bear in mind that this is your blueprint for defining the person who has to do the job. A job profile is not a job description.
How to profile a job
Jobs can only be profiled once your sales strategy is in place, as this will enable you to structure each one of the jobs that creates your overall sales team. Once you have identified what your team should look like, the deliverable for each job can be aligned to your strategy to ensure it delivers against it.
The key deliverables will define the talent you need and the specifications for each individual function that makes up the sales team. For example, in today’s economy, the most successful sales people are true consultants who have invested a lot of time in understanding the products and services they sell and the benefits to their customers.
The role of sales consultant is not one required in a transactional type of business, but certainly in a consultative business where the organisation focuses on partnering with its clients.
Selling to C-level executives
The role of sales consultant is currently one of the most difficult positions to recruit for, largely because the world has changed since the recession. Middle managers are no longer signing orders – instead, sales consultants have to engage with people in the C-suite, which has all sorts of implications for the talent specification. It’s absolutely essential to get the right talent on board upfront because of this critical sales exposure. One of biggest drawbacks of not profiling correctly in this instance, is the subsequent loss of opportunity.
Reaping the benefits
Profiling is something that anyone in sales management should be doing, because when it comes to sales people, job interviews are simply not enough. You may, for instance, come across a candidate with experience and an excellent track record, but how will you know if that is purely the result of having had an exceptional product to sell.
In a different environment, perhaps, that person may be quite average. What you should be looking out for is the ability to be competitive and self-motivated – elements of personality which cannot be taught. Profiling enables you to identify behaviours and requirements of the job to help you recruit the right people for the right job, identify development needs, redraft roles and deploy talent as required.
It indicates the talent required for the job in a scientific manner based on what the job entails, which itself is linked back to the business strategy and the sales targets. Simply, it helps you understand specific behaviours that lead to the most effective performance in a particular job.
Select candidates who add value
Profiling often assesses people according to two different criteria:
- The talent available in the individual candidate which matches the talent requirements
- The knowing or mastery that person has of the sales process.
Once you have insight into the how and the mastery, you will be able to determine if that individual is going to add value when it comes to execution and achieving the business strategy.