6. STRATEGIC SALES
Top performers in this sales category, who may be thought
of as “knowledge brokers,” establish themselves as industry
experts and true business partners. They leverage deep knowledge
of the client’s business, industry, product and marketplace
to bring new insight, challenge assumptions and conventional
wisdom and ask the difficult questions that the customer
may not have thought about or has been avoiding. They often
manifest competencies such as strategic thinking, business
acumen, learning agility and organizational savvy.
A NEW PARADIGM AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR
HIRING AND TRAINING
So what does this mean for the company looking to hire and
train successful salespeople? Because the business environment
is changing rapidly, it’s imperative for both business strategists
and HR professionals to first understand the makeup of their
sales teams. What are the competency-based strengths and
weaknesses of the current sales force? What do your top performers
have that other salespeople seem to lack? Does your
sales success model reflect any of the categories listed above?
Where are the gaps? And how can these gaps be addressed via
training and development?
Many of these questions may not have an immediate answer,
however, it’s critical to understand the competencies required
for sales success so that you can train up to – or hire against
– that benchmark to accommodate the business requirements
for salespeople in today’s world.
Once companies have an idea of how their teams look in
terms of strengths and areas of developmental opportunity,
you can create goals that include training and development as
well as hiring to fill gaps, if necessary.
The nuances resulting from this evolution in the sales profession
are important to understand for both salespeople in
the field and those looking to hire them. n
Tom Schoenfelder, Ph.D., is the senior vice president of research
and development with Caliper, an employee-assessment and
and strengthening relationships with current customers and
working to develop new relationships through introductions
or referrals. In addition to competencies such as persuading,
developing relationships and negotiating, top performers are
able to effectively collect and leverage information related to
the client organization’s formal and informal communication
channels and power dynamics.
3. ACCOUNT SERVICE SPECIALIST
This category of sales professional often finds success by providing
strong service to existing customers and accounts, while
strategically taking the opportunity to cross- or up-sell. Top
performers in this category build rapport with clients, identify
their needs, offer tailored advice about products or services
and create additional opportunities to generate business by focusing
on the overall customer experience.
4. CONSULTATIVE SALES
This approach reflects recent trends in the world of sales, in
which customers expect to partner with the sales professional
to collaboratively develop solutions to pressing business
problems. Top performers win business by building working
relationships based on mutual trust and shared accountability,
asking probing questions to systematically uncover root causes
of issues and providing compelling proposals. Important competencies
include interpersonal sensitivity, active listening and
5. TECHNICAL SALES
Professionals in this category generate opportunities by leveraging
technical expertise and product and/or industry-specific
knowledge, perhaps working as the primary salesperson in a
technical or scientific sale or as a subject-matter expert in conjunction
with a closer. Technical sales professionals leverage
their expertise to build credibility and gather important information
or specifications, and they often have educational
backgrounds in engineering, medicine or another specialty.
Competencies of a top performer typically include analytical
thinking, business acumen and learning agility.
BECAUSE THE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT IS CHANGING
RAPIDLY, IT’S IMPERATIVE FOR BOTH BUSINESS
STRATEGISTS AND HR PROFESSIONALS TO FIRST
UNDERSTAND THE MAKEUP OF THEIR SALES TEAMS.
26 ❚ AUGUST 2017 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL