Earlier this month, I posted a blog on how important it is for a company to hire the right people. I shared that if you don’t hire correctly, you’re always struggling with trying to turn “cats into dogs”. Some will make the switch – but, for those cats who refuse to make a change, it makes sense to let them go and replace them with dogs. Once you have the dogs in place, then communicating the goals, their role in the company and their progress, or lack of progress, becomes very important.
Last Friday I had the opportunity of attending the American Marketing Association‘s luncheon featuring Anthony Cole. His topic was on “Aligning Sales and Marketing”. Since sales and marketing is my primary function here at my company, the topic was of utmost interest to me.
Right from the start, Mr. Cole stated, “If your reps aren’t performing, you’re either hiring wrong or training wrong”. So, he quickly confirmed my philosophy that it’s important to hire the right dogs to do the job. There are many tools available to help you gauge whether you have the right people who just need training and coaching, or, if you need to hire new personnel. Don’t depend solely on interviews. If you’re like me, you tend to believe most of what people tell you and that isn’t good when you’re hiring.
He also spoke about communication between sales and marketing and I found his comments right on target. Marketing spends a lot of time defining the target market(s), crafting the value proposition, purchasing the collateral needed and then they just “drop” it on the sales team with the statement of “Now, go sell it!”. We forget that the team, which has been heading in one direction with one message, must now add a new product or service, or change direction and incorporate entirely new messaging into their presentations.
The communication between sales and marketing needs to include valuable tools, such as sample letters, elevator speech, voice mail, email and phone scripts. Your sales team may be very receptive about selling an additional product or service, but may have no idea of how to incorporate it into their current sales presentations. In addition, you need to explain the new services and/or direction, the value it will bring the company, how their compensation will be affected and then allow them to practice the new material on you through role playing.
It’s not enough to hand them the tools and give them the information. You need to make sure it’s internalized – that they really understand the direction and see how it fits into the company as a whole. Ask them how they’re going to use this new information because if they can’t tell you, then you’ll know that either more training and coaching are needed, or you may need to replace them. It’s likely that not all sales reps will be able, or willing, to make a change.
My favorite part of Mr. Cole’s talk was when he stated that, “All solutions start with “I”. No excuses!” I believe, this holds true for all people, certainly not just sales representatives. We can go through life blaming everything and everyone, but until we look within and see our contribution to a problem, real change will not happen. It’s not the bad economy, it’s not our pricing structure, it’s not that we don’t have a certain piece of equipment or that voice mail makes it difficult to connect with prospects. It’s discovering what you do have, internally and externally, and then using it to accomplish the goals.
I believe that life requires all of us to change constantly, or become irrelevant.