Learn from the Best Sales Professionals

I was meeting with a training customer today and we were talking about the need to find another new and successful salesperson.  The business is currently medium size and successful in its market segment and product.  They do however require expansion and growth.  They need a new person to do that.  Timing and selection of the best person for the sales role was of some focus.

Currently the other sales person in the team was highly successful; that success was largely due to market awareness and the maturity of the team member.  He had been in the industry for some years and at the age of 62 he was well known as the specialist in his field.  Clients and customers were attracted to him because they trusted him.  He had no intention of retiring anytime soon so he had a lot of ongoing value he could offer to the business.

There is a massive opportunity here for the new salesperson to learn from the established person.  Maturity in sales is a good thing.  They say that the really good salespeople ‘live and breathe’ the process of client contact and service. This was well evidenced in this business.  Sales can be regarded as a true profession for the best in any industry.

So what is the recommendation?  Try these for starters:

  1. Have the new salesperson work with the older established person for 3 to 6 months.  During that time there will be the opportunity for learning and growth.  The new salesperson can learn the market and the client base from the other salesperson.
  2. Break the skills of the older salesperson up into core attributes to be developed in the newer person.
  3. Start a training program in skill development.
  4. Role play in the small sales team on a weekly basis
  5. Have the new team member visit clients with the older team member to see how the relationships and customer service connections work in the group.

It’s all common sense really.  You can do the same.  Look at your resources currently and decide how the strengths of the team can be shared.

Sales Team Leaders or Sales Team Disasters

It is interesting to note that many successful sales people do not make very good team leaders.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that promoting a top salesperson to the role of ‘team leader’ is a bad thing.

The character of a team leader is totally different to that of a salesperson.   A top salesperson is generally focused on personal systems and actions.  That is why they are so good at what they do; each day they do the right things and build momentum and market share.  They also will earn a lot of commission as a result of these personal processes.

Many business leaders and CEO’s unfortunately take the top performer from the team and give them the ‘tag’ of ‘sales manager’ or ‘sales director’.  That person will be given a pay increase in exchange for sharing their skills around the greater team.  Whilst the logic is there, it is a ‘dumb’ business move.

Do you know what I mean?  Have you been there before?  Here are some facts that you cannot ignore.

  • The character of a top performer is one of achievement.  That is removed when they are appointed as ‘sales manager’.
  • A top salesperson will drive massive business when given autonomy and left to establish their systems and procedures.  Flexibility and creativity are critical factors to top sales performers.  In the role of ‘sales manager’ they will not have that.
  • A ‘sales manager’ has to be skilful in team leadership and team counselling.  Those skills do not sit well with a top sales performer.

The best sales managers are special people that know how to encourage personal performance across many different types of people.  They enjoy the job for the benefit and results that the team can achieve.  Choose your sales managers well, and your business will benefit.