In order for your sales figures to grow rapidly, your sales department needs real professionals who are tech-savvy and ready for any eventuality. Unfortunately, in practice it is quite challenging to find trained specialists, and this is especially true for companies providing specific services or complex solutions. For clarity, let’s consider the following example.
Suppose a company specializes in the installation of advanced video surveillance systems, or provides services to create and promote a variety of network resources and sites. Or the company is engaged in the implementation of innovative IT products designed to automate various business processes. All of these companies may experience some difficulties in recruitment for their sales departments.
Recruitment of qualified staff as the key to organize an effective sales department
Management realizes that it must find adequately experienced sales persons and have the skills to negotiate with corporate clients. However, the staff member must be competent in a particular area. In our example, he must have knowledge of the development and implementation of various software products and know the specifics of corporate security and video surveillance systems.
The functional responsibilities of a sales manager may include negotiations with technical specialists of partner companies and customers. That is why he should know and understand the technical part of the matter very well; otherwise, productive dialogue will not occur.
In other words, the sales department needs employees who are equally proficient in both the technical specifics and the skill of negotiation. It should be noted that the technical component in the examples above has a narrow emphasis.
Universal approach to recruitment - pros and cons
The methodology of recruitment given above is more related to the common approach, which has become increasingly popular in various companies. This popularity is due to quite subjective factors. If you manage to attract an educated sales staff which is strong not only in commerce but also has the appropriate technical knowledge, you can expect the effective sales department means increase in sales.
The main difficulty here is that finding versatile employees is very challenging. Furthermore, attempts to create and organize a multi-tasking team can lead to negative consequences, both for the sales as such, and for the business as a whole.
In today's employment market, you are unlikely to find ready-made multi-tasking employees. The only source of such personnel (savvy in commercial and technical skills) may be competing companies. However, it is not quite reasonable to focus on competing companies as the main source of your skilled workforce. An employee who is working successfully in sales department for one of your competitors will seldom think about changing jobs.
No doubt, the main tool to attract such specialists is financial motivation. It is important to understand that by coming to your company, he is not just leaving his previous employer; he is betraying him by going to a competitor.
Simply put, you would have to hire an employee who has once betrayed his management, and he can always repeat it with you. Consider whether such an employee would have a high degree of loyalty to your company. Today you have made a lucrative offer and poached him along with a good customer base, but where is the guarantee that tomorrow he will not get the same offer from one of your other competitors? There is always a possibility that your "golden" employee from the sale department may go to a new employer and take the customer base with him.
Of course, in the employment market there are also other circumstances. For example, a qualified employee from the sales could be looking for work due to termination of his position at the company he is working for now. This category of persons is well suited for the selection of competent and technically trained employees. But such a situation in the market is a rare occurrence, so you will not succeed in forming a sales team exclusively from employees who came to you from another company which was closed.
Accordingly, it is very rare to find in the labor market an expert who fully satisfies all the needs of the employer and with the appropriate qualifications. In the best case scenario, you will be able to find a candidate for your department which effectively handles sales who is comparatively appropriate and fits various parameters, who you can then train and turn into a professional sales person. It should be noted that this work is very demanding and requires certain time and costs.
Difficulties of training and possible negative consequences
Even the initial training of the sales person may take several months, and the training of technical specifics and characteristics of sold products or services may take much longer.
For the future sales person to master all of the technical components of your business with finesse may take more than one year. That is why the first year of hiring such employees cannot bring the anticipated result. If you intend to train real professionals who are effective in both commercial and technical issues, be ready for a long-term phase of training.
Here we have a valid question - if the sales person cannot function effectively in the first year, is it advisable to hire him? You must understand that most of the newly-attracted sales team members will not be able to withstand an adaptation period of a year. As a result, an outflow of personnel in the department can occur in the first few months. Long before they are fully trained and have gained the necessary sales skills, most employees will change jobs.
As a result, the employer is forced to recruit new staff, carry out the appropriate training and pay wages. The main disadvantage in this situation is a permanent loss and waste of time, management’s personal efforts, and financial resources.
Even assuming that some of the new employees will successfully adapt and gain the necessary skills to work effectively, a new problem will emerge. In practice, as soon as your employees start to clearly understand the technical specifics, they may become disinterested in the commercial component of the issue. They may get bored doing daily business routines, which will certainly affect the results of their professional activity. Do not expect from such a manager an active exploration of the customer base and persistent cold calls.
Another aspect that is characteristic of this category of employees is a relatively low threshold of loyalty to the company.
Such a manager is already aware of his value in the labor market, which can lead to a progression of the egoistic tendencies in his nature blending smoothly into "star disease". In practice, the business may encounter conflict among the management and the staff. In the worst case scenario, you risk losing part of the team to a competitor, taking with them the accumulated customer base. Or you may potentially find a new rival company with similar business characteristics – that has hired some of your former employees.
Meanwhile, experts point out that all the negative consequences of a general approach in the selection of personnel for the sales department are primarily related to a number of administrative errors. The owner of the business may have a misconception that sales managers should work the same way as the owner of the company did when he performed these functions himself. It is no secret that in the early stages of building a business, almost every owner is a versatile worker and performs a variety of functions. He has to go into all the technical intricacies and independently negotiate with potential clients. Seeing the results of his work, he believes that the sales staff must also be effective and achieve success in this way - but do not forget that between the business owner and the employee, there is a giant difference in motivation and loyalty.
As a result, you may end up with not an effective sales team, but new competitors arising from former staff. Instead of three managers of your company, three companies that completely copy your business model may appear on the market.