We all know that finding and hiring good sales people has become a problem. There are just not that many good ones out there right now. They are either, retired, gone to work in other fields or like the old general himself just faded away. So what are you going to do? You need sales people. You need more feet on the street and you need them now.
But don’t despair, there is a solution and that is to grow your own. I can just about guarantee that there are a number of very good sales people buried somewhere in your own company, right there under your very nose, people who are just sitting there hoping that someday they can be asked to join the glorious ranks of outside sales. All you have to do is identify them, talk to them and get them on track to becoming good outside sales people. Here is how you do it.
The first place to look is your inside sales team. By all rights this should be the training ground, the farm team for your future outside sales people. But this is not always the case. There are many inside sales people who like what they do and want to keep doing it for life. But there are others, always at least one who is just chomping at the bit to get out of there and get into outside sales. You know the one, often he’s not even as good at his job as others in his department are. But he has the gift of gab and he is almost always the favorite of the outside sales team. This is the person you talk to and start grooming for outside sales. Not today mind you, but in the future because there is still work to do get him ready for that plunge into outside sales.
Then you should also look at your engineering people. Look for that person who is good with customers. The person who seems to have a better working relationship with your customers. He is the one who always seems to be mentioned in those customer testimonials lauding your company for how helpful you are. This is the person who always stands up for the customer when there is a customer issue and once again this is the person who is the favorite of the outside sales team.
The same characteristics apply to anyone in the company, Quality and operations people as well.
Once you have spotted your likely candidate start the process:
Sit down with her and talk about her career path (you should be doing this with all of your employees anyway, you’ll be shocked at how much talent you actually have in your company). If she is interested in a career in sales start grooming her for that positions. Do don’t put her out in the field right away. Develop a long term plan for her, figure out how long it will take and start the training then start by developing a full-blown training plan.
This plan should include:
- Learning all aspects of the company so the person has a complete understanding of the process; how boards are built from beginning to end.
- Exposure to all other departments especially Engineering and CAM.
- Spending time with the inside sales team; actually not only watching what they do but also doing it as well.
- Learning how a board is quoted and priced and how the customer is approached with that price and becoming familiar with how the quote is written up and delivered to the customers
- Merchandizing and negotiating directly with the customer. How to upsell.
- Learning everything possible about the company how it started and its’ history.
- Becoming familiar with the company’s sales strategy.
- Becoming familiar with the company’s marketing and branding plan including all of the collateral materials and advertising.
- Teaching the person how to sell for the company. Have one of your best sales people teach her how to sell.
- Get him involved in “ride-alongs” with the sales people.
- Have her attend a local trade show
You should be evaluating them all along the way, checking out to see just how into it they actually are. This is a great time to not only see how they do but if they are well suited for an outside sales position.
Then when she’s ready assign her a territory and wish her well; and the start the process all over again with a new candidate.
In the end this will all pay off. In some cases you will dodge a bullet be discovering that the person is not well-suited for a sales job; but in many cases you will be developing a well-trained company loyal professional sales person. One who will make your company proud. You will not only have developed a great sales person but you will have launched a person on a good and productive sales career as well. Now all you’ll have to worry about is treating that person well enough so that he stays with your company. It’s only common sense.