One of the most daunting jobs for companies that I have found in my professional career, is how Sales Leaders are chosen, hired, and maintained.
First off, I think we can agree on two points, in regards to choosing a Sales Leader.
1) It is a very important decision (the choice of the person to lead)
2) The choice has implications BEYOND the Sales Organization
If you can agree on the above 2 points - continue reading, if not stop now, and DO NOT continue.
If you continued, you are smart.
If you did not keep on reading, and dropped off this blog two lines above -- you are one of the people that--- "looks down on sales people in general, and the sales function as a necessary evil in your company...."
News bulletin to you.
Your sales people know it. Leaders who have a underlying disdain for dealing with any sales type function, salespeople, sales issues, are doomed to being average BUILDERS. ( see my definition of builder) -- but, they will never ever be extraordinary leaders, and will NEVER EVER excel greatly in business. (and neither will the companies they lead)
2 questions (only of course for those that dropped off, or wanted to, and should not be reading anyway here)
* Does your company constantly attempt to "fix" the sales organization by bringing in someone from the outside, or bring someone from another division in the company to lead sales?
* What is the ratio of people from other divisions (or outside the company) that are transfered INTO Sales, as opposed to moving a sales person into another division inside of the company? (for instance moving a sales person into a pure marketing role, or operational type role - compared to people coming from operations INTO sales)
If the company is consistently trying to "fix" sales -- or is always looking at "who is next to go into sales..." , (to import another individual into the sales group) I have another news bulletin. Look in the mirror. More often than not, the leadership is confusing and muddying the MESSAGE that you want the sales people to bring to clients and prospects.
I emphasize, this is ONLY if it is consistently happening at a company, of course, leaders are allowed to make changes internally and with Leadership - but if it is with more FREQUENCY (that there is tinkering and changes in the sales division), and that the company alters the "face" of the sales group, as you compare it to other divisions internally on average, -- well you got a problem.
When was the last time the company moved a sales guy into finance/accounting? They don't - it never crosses leader's minds. Because Finance and Accounting are specialized, and require a special skill set.....
Well, so does EXCEPTIONAL SALES SKILLS.
(probably a bad example, because one of the most successful, charasmatic, sales leaders I worked for, was a accounting guy who was transplanted into the sales group, so there are exceptions to every rule***)
However, not too often.
This "beat" by me will continue. It needs to be understood, and appreciated that there are TONS of average people in every walk of life, including sales....but, the key is making sure YOUR SALES GROUP HIRES THE BEST PEOPLE -- AND IF YOU BELIEVE THEY DO, (hire the best talent)-- work to consistently make THEM BETTER -- by telling them on a consistent basis, that change is OK, but as a company we believe our message is right, our mission is correct - and our sales leadership has our support.
Companies often get this message across to their investors, as well as their executive committee.
But, they forget to bring the mission statement and support to the group that touches the clients, and prospects -- so that the company can have investors and executives.
My motto for this entry should be: "Have you loved a sales person at your company today?"
Do it, you will feel better - and so will I.