Be afraid, be very afraid of what you wish for.
Ok, perhaps a little melodramatic, but seriously, as the economy begins to pick up so will the inevitable hiring. This is where caution needs to be exercised. I see planning taking place in all industries and in all different sizes of companies. This planning is turning executives into “wide-eyed-Christmas-morning-children” just thinking about the level and sheer number of top-grade sales talent presently in the job pool.
The fallout of the economic recession left extremely talented sales professionals in one of several states of flux. Either currently out of work, doing less-than-their-potential, or covertly looking for the next position. Either way, senior sales people are out there. The rub is, companies are looking to acquire this talent, yet they do not have the “infrastructure” to support this level of talent. The opportunity to obtain this talent has never been better, and quite possibly will we never see this plethora of talent sitting idle again.
Sales managers coming out of regular or special planning sessions need to understand how extraordinary this level of talent is and how to quickly adjust to accommodate them. If you made the commitment to raise the level of sales standard in your company by hiring the upper echelon, then you need to understand the following basics:
- What makes them different
- What motivates them
- How to interact with them
Understand that personalities at this level are mostly of the “A” type and nothing should be done to counter what works for them. After all, you are looking for the best, right? Doing so could signal an implosion of success and leave you as a manager holding the bag that just exploded and wondering what happened.
Several years ago, I worked for one of the biggest software companies in the world. This company had a HUGE pool of top-level salespeople. Yet, they did not possess the infrastructure to guarantee their salespeople’s success. Why? Because they didn’t understand the complexities of this group, nor what it took to support this level of talent. At the time, most other companies didn’t either; and still do not. The damage this did was to put the mark of “unsuccessfulness” on these people. There were those that were good and did well, but there were a lot more that didn’t fair as well through no fault of their own. They were just as talented. The reason: No Support. The company basically said here’s your territory…go get’em! The lesson learned was a hard one for every software company at the time. The bottom line is they gave sales and market share away and never knew it.
So what does this all mean? The level and number of talented individuals in the labor pool right now is enormous. Not every company needs this level of talent. If yours doesn’t, then don’t drool over something you don’t need. If your company does, this use this list as a starting point for successful onboarding.
- If your company’s culture will not or cannot support these people, then do not hire them until it can.
- Does your sales model support this level of talent?
- lead development
- no overlap of territory
- clearly defined compensation model
- How are you going to measure success level?
These are just a very few considerations you must think about. The biggest and most overlooked is lead generation. Let’s face the fact here; these people are going to command $6-figure base salaries. Do you want to pay this kind of salary for someone to cold call or close business? I would hope the latter, but you might be surprised to learn some managers today don’t understand this logic. If you don’t understand this, then you don’t need this level of talent…period!!
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Several years ago I too worked for a large software company. The only expectations were for you to “perform”. The problem was the playing field was not clearly defined and the rules were ambiguous at best.
This article brought back reminders of both good and bad times. Thanks for posting, I enjoyed it even thought I still don’t believe the software companies yet “get it”.
I believe the issue goes beyond the smaller companies wanted greater sales talent. Every company wants those that outperform the competition. A lot of burden is placed upon the individual. I would like to see the hiring company put a little “skin” in the game.
I like Marci’s comment that the issue is deeper than small companies wanting better talent. There are very few companies today that don’t treat sales as a “necessary evil.”
That attitude is where the non-support comes from and unless that type of mindset changes, the problem will continue in every company.
This decade has been about cutting costs, not increasing sales. The sales profession has been downgraded.