In the original version of the Magnificent Seven, Yul Brenner and Steve McQeen spend the opening scenes recruiting men to, “shoo some flies away from a little village.” In one scene, they come across Robert Vaughn who is on the run and now looking for work. When Vaughn agrees to join the team, Brenner holds up seven fingers indicating that they now have seven men on the team. McQueen, however, waves his hand as if to say, “hold on.” He has reservations about Vaughn. That’s when Brenner says, “No. No. He’s a good gun. And where we’re going is no church social.”
Our current business environment is also no church social. As sales leaders, we’ve seen some tumultuous times, such as 9/11, the Great Recession of 2008, and now the COVID-19 crisis. Let me ask you, do you have the right people in the right roles to address these challenging times? Do you have a way to identify and recruit those “good guns” on your team to pull your group through the rough patches?
In this time of business uncertainty, your system for hiring, assembling, and developing your sales team should include the six strategies outlined below.
Factors That Predict Success
To ensure you have the right team in place, you’re going to have to look at some of the identifying factors that can statistically predict sales success. The new business reality is you aren’t going to have all the available resources to get the job done. Many of your resources might be trimmed down. Some of those resources may not even be available. So, like Billy Beane in Moneyball, if we are going into a championship match, you need a way to know your people are bringing the right skills and capabilities to the game for each role.
The Sales Team’s Capacity
We’ve talked about the shifting business landscape in the past. Sales leadership needs to gain a viewpoint of the capacity of salespeople in relation to what the business landscape now calls for. Many sales leaders know the attitude of their people. They like the people they hired. But their knowledge of their people’s capacity becomes spotty when it comes to what their people can really do. You need ways to understand how our people can perform under not-so-ideal conditions.
Select, Develop, and Retain Sales Talent
As a sales leader dealing with this business uncertainty and the demands from your organization, you’ll need to retain and develop your sales talent. You need to know where their strengths are and coach them through their opportunities for improvement. You’ll also need to address your overall training strategy for your people. I’ve seen many sales leaders simply pump content on their team thinking that exposure will result in a behavioral change. Instead, sales leadership needs to involve providing the right content to address the situation at hand.
The Right People Attached to the Right Job
You’ll also need systems for putting the right people in the right jobs. We covered this topic in a previous post on motivation. It goes back to a principle covered by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great. You must get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. And when dealing with business uncertainty, you need a system for accurately determining the right people for your organization and getting them into the right roles. Otherwise you’ll have an unmotivated and underperforming work team.
As stated before, business environments change. Sometimes the change is a fast hit and the business environment returns slowly. Other times, the change can be permanent. You and your team need to be flexible, innovative and nimble enough to address these events. So, your talent system needs to include ways to identify and develop your sales talent to accommodate future needs as well as a progression path for the people on your sales team.
Alignment of Strategies
Lastly, sales leadership needs to consider the whole system. Your sales team, your sales goals, and your go-to-market strategy all must play together. So, you need to take measures to align your strategy for onboarding and developing your sales talent with your goals and your marketing strategy.
In reviewing these strategies, there are a few key questions you must ask yourself when considering your talent strategy. First, do you have the right sales structure and the roles to execute the strategy you need to move forward? For example, in the businesses we deal with, most of our clients deal with what I call the disease of uniqueness. They have unique circumstances in the marketplace, unique demands of their customers, which means they will need to apply certain strategies when moving forward.
Secondly, what’s going to predict success in each of your sales roles? Do you know what those factors are and how to identify them? Or are you hiring someone just on raw attitude as mentioned above?
Lastly, do you have the right people in the right roles?
Detailed Review of These Sales Leadership Strategies
Our next webinar will cover these topics in more depth, look at answering these questions, and address ways to align your sales talent with your overall sales strategy. The webinar will help you:
- Recognize the 6 strategies listed above to find and retain the right sales talent
- Answer those 3 important questions to define your sales talent strategy
- Analyze your product life cycle
- Align your sales approach with what your market buys
- Determine if your sales roles align with your sales approach
In these critical times, you’re going to need the most versatile sales force you can assemble because we all are going to be running a little leaner and meaner.
You can access the webinar on demand here.