Is Your Sales Team Holding You Back?By Jerry ScherPublished: May 14, 2013How’s your progress going with redefining your business? Have you been able to identify what you would likeyour business to look like five years from now? Are your sales currently growing along with maintaining anacceptable profit level? Earlier this week Dr. Joe Webb’s commentary on Q1’s revenue results were not veryexciting and quite frankly all indicators continue to support the notion that in order to build a sustainablebusiness in the graphics communications industry one must: Embrace new products, services and strategies Develop a myriad of resources to support this change Find and develop new markets and clientsA wide range of experts will tell you that you need a plan; a well-developed strategy that’s created with inputfrom a broad group of stakeholders, including your employees, so the ultimate vision becomes a shared vision,one resulting in an aligned, supportive workforce. Considering that your current and future workforce will becharged with executing your strategy, one must carefully consider whether or not you’re current team representsthe best talent necessary to execute at your level of expectation.In a recent article -The Goal Revisited , John Braceland, Graphic Arts Alliance, shared his thoughts about TheTheory of Constraints which focuses on three areas that must be controlled in all organizations:1. Throughput – rate that the system is used to generate money through sales2. Inventory – all the money invested in purchasing items that will be sold3. Operational Expense – all the money used to turn inventory into throughputWhile many organizations within our industry appear to perform reasonably well with constraints two and three,it is becoming increasingly obvious that constraint number one – throughput is a source of considerablefrustration. As the ink-on-paper market continues to struggle and new products and services are required toexpand revenue, sales people are being challenged. They must become experts in new product/services areas,expand their relationships with multiple client contacts, leverage rapidly changing technologies for marketing,business generation and retention all while working collaboratively with a team of support staff, nolonger operating as the lone ranger. Based on continuous research in the field it is quite apparent that a largepercentage of the legacy sales people employed within our industry are not prepared to transition to the new roleand therefore are becoming an inhibiting factor to future business development and growth.In a recent blog – Why Top Sales People Will Be Unemployed in Two Years the author suggests that as thebuying environment continues to change and sales people don’t evolve, large numbers of them will no longer beemployable. So how do we as business leaders address this challenge? Some will suggest that we invest heavilyin re-training our current sales people. While that may work with some of the legacy sale people in our industry,I fear that far too many of them are actually not suitable for the next generation, graphic communications salesrole. And quite frankly too many are resistant to the changes that are required.
I would like to suggest a three –tiered approach in addressing this challenge. But first you must carefully definethe job - taking into consideration who they will be selling to, what products/services they will be selling, whoelse in the organization will be involved in the sales process and how you plan to compensate the sales team.Once this task is completed I strongly recommend that you establish a structured approach to attracting andselecting the most appropriate talent. This approach should incorporate three primary components:1. Eligibility – refers to a complete description of the past experience, education, knowledge, network,certification, industry knowledge and any other pre-requisites you deem necessary.2. Suitability – refers to the personality and behavioral competencies, work preferences and interests thatyou believe are critical to achieving success in the position. It is extremely important that you identifythe traits that are appropriate for each job and leverage the available technology to assess existing salespeople and of course the candidates you are considering for the position.3. Interview – as a critical component of this three-tiered approach, your team must develop a muchhigher level of competence when it comes to interviewing candidates. This appears to be a significantweakness in too many organizations – how to construct and conduct an effective interview.The costs related to hiring the wrong person for a job are well documented. You focus so much attention onimproving process and controlling so many processes to improve efficiencies. Isn’t it time to improve yourrecruiting and hiring efficiencies as well?If you would like more information about how to more effectively identify and select the best talent, contactJerry Scher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-931-9291. For information about Harrison Assessments™ –the highly acclaimed assessment technology – visit http://peakfocus.harrisonassessments.com/index.htmlStay tuned to this continual series – as we continue to focus the challenges of building an effective team.