Your Sales Force is Important!
It is always amazing to pick up a newspaper, read a headline that is obvious to most of us and realize that this is actually news to some business professionals!
Imagine the following headline in a recent high tech business publication, “In start-up world, good ideas will also need good sales staff”!
The story continues to describe how several prominent college professors have just determined that, although a number of their high tech start up clients have a great product, they ignored the necessity for a high level, highly trained and qualified sales force! Wow, what rocket science! Amazing! These professors are actually developing an entire new curriculum, at a major university, entitled “Sales Force and Sales Force Management”. The puzzling aspect of this story is that their realization is new to them!
It’s no wonder there has been a “melt down” in the high tech sector! Obviously, the best product, the best service, the best concept, cannot be successful without a talented, well trained and efficient sales force!
This realization has hit many companies in various business sectors lately. During the wild 90’s, the economy seemed to have such strength that many companies in a wide variety of industries began to ignore the basics that contributed to the foundation of their success. For as long as there have been new products there has been the need to sell them.
In most business ventures, the first salesman is often the individual or group of individuals with the new concept, or the new product. They are fully committed to the program, they exude enthusiasm, and nothing will get in their way. We all know people that fit the profile. They are fun to be with, their non stop energy is infectious, they are driven to succeed.
A few organizations are actually successful in those early years, and continue to grow. The founders remain very involved in all aspects of the company. Their early enthusiasm is prevalent at all levels of the organization; however, new challenges are consuming the entrepreneur’s time. New people are added to the staff including the first new sales people.
It becomes obvious that sales responsibility has to be delegated to others. The next step is perilous. How does the organization grow and maintain the initial spirit of adventure?
The type of sales organization selected is very important! Company employed sales people, independent manufacturer’s representatives, or a combination of both? Whatever concept is adopted does not change the basic requirements. It is critical to have a well trained, well managed, and well compensated sales organization to assure success in the marketplace. A poorly trained sales force generally results in lackluster performance!
For most organizations, the sales force is the public face of the company. It’s important that it has the appearance and knowledge commensurate with the image of the company.
Don’t send your sales force into the market unprepared. Training is the first step in a well designed organization. A smart company spends wisely in creating an in depth, well thought out training program. The program is dynamic and ongoing. Expectations are clearly articulated, and carefully monitored. The goal is to create real professionals and not just order takers.
Provide your team with all necessary and appropriate literature and samples. Ensure easy access to all technical information generally needed to close the order! Let’s face it, isn’t the order what we all ultimately work for?
Clear channels of communication are key to the success of your sales team. Be sure to create a system that is well organized, concise and easy to understand. Make staff available to your sales team during normal business hours. They are the front line, enable them to secure information when they need it! There is nothing more frustrating for a salesperson, than meeting with a customer, ready to place an order, who has a few last minute questions, and not being able to reach the appropriate individual in the home office.
The really successful organizations understand that every member of the company is actually part of the company sales force. Everything in the company depends upon selling the company products! Everybody is always selling!
Is the company sales force important? You be the judge!
That’s just my “Point of View”!
William L. Shannon CSI, CISCA
President of Shannon Corporation
Recipient of the 2004 De Gelleke Award