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Know What You Need

Know What You Need

If new hires have not panned out, it’s time to pin down a more detailed notion of what the job entails.

Sales jobs range from quick-closing, hard-selling, short-term, commission-only positions to the opposite extreme, where the persuasive element is much more subtle and takes place only a few times a year at the end of a long process. Similarly, many sales positions require little technical background, while others require the salesperson to be a technical expert in a particular product or service.

It is important to understand the key elements that are necessary and some of the key questions that must be asked to develop an understanding of the specific sales role and the personality attributes required for an individual to fill that role successfully. These are the elements that will go into creating a realistic job description, which then becomes your blueprint for finding the ideal candidate.

While this may seem fundamental, we have been continually amazed at how many companies come to us with job descriptions that are very unspecific and, as a result, set the stage for disappointment.
To make a rational judgment on who can fill a particular sales job, you need to understand the product being sold, the nature of the prospects being solicited and the very process through which success can be attained.

Frequency of Close – A sales situation that provides two or three closing opportunities per year would not satisfy an individual who has an intense ego-drive and perhaps possesses the impatience that frequently goes along with that kind of drive. That individual hungers for closes as a key means of satisfying that drive.

Lead Production – It is a far more difficult sale when cold calling is required. The cold caller must, out of necessity, experience far more frequent rejection, often of a far more abrupt, even nasty, kind, than the individual who follows up leads that have been furnished. Thus a very clear definition of the job must be made internally and presented honestly to the candidate about the nature of customer conversion, cold leads, cool leads, well-screened leads and so on. Different people will be successful depending on an accurate definition of this aspect of the sales role.

Nature of the Customer – Many people would be highly successful at selling individual consumers a tangible product but would fail totally if faced with the necessity of making a full-scale, well-developed presentation to a committee or a board of directors. Others could deal extraordinarily well at connecting with purchasing agents, branch managers or office managers, but would find it extremely difficult to make presentations on the board room or CEO level. It is critical to know not only to whom we are selling (companies, individuals, etc.), but also on what level the sale is initially made and on what level the final purchase can be approved.

Herb Greenberg and Patrick Sweeney

First Appeared in:
Sales & Marketing Management

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