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Creating, hiring, and retaining excellent sales professionals is often treated as an art that requires deep knowledge and a sixth sense about the most suitable candidates. However, there are several aspects a team of selection managers is to take into consideration. These factors are vital for the hirers to acquire a successful team of salespeople, and they represent fixed rules, concerns, and standards. That way, the creation of such a team should be referred to as a precise science rather than art. There is a multitude of important determinants of what kind of professionals and when are to be hired. Also, there are specific actions as to the retention of such employees. This paper attempts to present a detailed explanation of various aspects of the process of the sales team creation, selection, and retention.
What Are the Requirements?
Discussing the question of whether or not a team of excellent salespeople with a mediocre manager would be more successful than that of average salespeople and an outstanding manager, Zoltners, Sinha, and Lorimer (2012) describe the arguments supporting both options. The authors notice that the proponents of the former combination would be likely to believe that good sales professionals would not require a manager, or that they are the key to success as they are the ones who build relationships with the buyers. Finally, one manager is easier to replace than a team of salespeople. At the same time, the supporters of the excellent manager would believe that this person would be in charge of forming, organizing, and motivating the team, and thus the manager is more valuable. All in all, Zoltners et al. (2012) support the latter idea and emphasize that the manager is the power that allows an average group of salespeople to improve their excellence and results. However, ideally, both the manager and the team are to be highly professional.
When it comes to the duties of a good manager, Zoltners et al. (2012) employ the concept of “role pollution” that indicates that the role of this specialist is rather unclear and involves a large variety of different tasks that end up pulling the professional in different directions. As a result, the frustrated managers focus on the duties that create short-term benefits and quick results instead of choosing to work on the long-term outcomes. In turn, the entire team of salespeople starts to generate less profit and show decreased efficiency. That is why the primary challenge of the organization’s leaders is to determine the roles of the sales team manager very clearly and align them with the long-term objectives of the company.
Selection and Hiring
There are many different approaches to the selection and hiring practices when it comes to the creation of a team of salespeople. First of all, the hirers are to be aware of the fact that a detailed description of the job is the key to selecting the most suitable candidates (How to Build a Sales Team from the Ground Up, 2011). Weber (2016) notes that many selectors believe that the key to success is attracting as many applicants as possible. However, this strategy has one significant flaw that is its inefficiency. In reality, sorting through a large number of resumes and then conducting multiple interviews costs a lot of money and takes a rather long time. The majority of the candidates are likely to be evaluated as unsuitable, so from the practical point of view, this approach is a waste of resources.
That way, posting an announcement concerning the position on such websites as Craigslist would be likely to bring many people but this is not a benefit. Weber (2016) emphasizes that it would be better to search among the experienced salespersons with whom the leaders and managers of the company may have interacted due to the nature of their business. Selecting such people would result in a more effective hiring practice that would also consume less time. Besides, attracting people with whom the leaders and the executives of the organization have worked earlier would increase the rate of success of the hiring practices due to the hirers’ confidence as to the professional performance and experiences of the candidates. Moreover, Weber (2016) emphasizes the importance of hiring the very first sales employee as they would serve as the individual setting the tone of the future teamwork and sales results.
Also, one of the most likely issues the hirers might face is the reluctance of the millennials to take over the jobs in the sales career field. This phenomenon is explained by the fact that the young generation is rather familiar with the economic recession of the 2008 and the lengthy recovery from it; as a result, they view the careers in sales as extremely risky and unstable in terms of income, self-actualization, and job retention (Weber, 2015).
The selection practices are highly important for the company to receive the best talents among all the applicants. It is recommended that the applicants are interviewed based on a list of specific questions (structured and unstructured interviews) and also that two or more people are involved in the selection and evaluation of the talents (How to Build a Sales Team from the Ground Up, 2011). The set of skills and competencies required for the applicants should be clearly outlined for the selectors to be able to align the questions and tasks of the interviews with these requirements and target more specific features and capabilities. Moreover, Zoltners et al. (2012) point out that for the creation of an excellent sales team, the hirers are to focus on finding the salespeople compatible with the managerial skills and competencies as it takes versatile abilities for a successful sales career. Diversity is another crucial the selectors are to keep in mind choosing the right candidates. Since their objective would be to create a powerful team, they would have to apply critical thinking while evaluating the applicants and avoid selecting only the salespeople who work within one style.
Every successful company is to prepare its salespeople and teams. On average, American companies spend over twenty billion dollars annually to train their sales departments (Zoltners et al., 2012). However, only an insignificant fraction of this money is directed to train the managers of the teams who either find it difficult to conform to the new roles transforming from a sales representative or become frustrated due to the rapidly changing work requirements.
The teams and their managers are to work together to achieve perfect understanding and learn how to employ the benefits of the group members. The teams and the managers are to be properly trained to know the customer based and the primary and most significant traits of the clients and what attracts them. Besides, they have to develop full knowledge of the product and its aspects. Also, the team is to be built and cooperated in a way to remain a powerful group of collaborating professionals throughout time as it often happens that the teams of salespeople drift apart eventually due to the versatility of individual tasks and objectives (Weber, 2016).
Retention and Motivation
Apart from selecting and training a successful team of salespeople, a company is to ensure its lengthy retention. Keeping valuable human resources increases the cost-effectiveness of the business. That way, for the team to remain in the company, the workplace is to provide appropriate motivation. The usual approach to setting the requirements from the sales teams is through posting the performance results and employing guesswork. However, Silverman (2014) noticed that the changes to the ceiling and quota, as well as the commission period, are some of the most influential contributing factors to productivity and sales. The author notes that using low quotas, monthly commissions, and no ceilings is a helpful strategy of motivation as it makes the quotas more attainable and the salespeople are productive because they receive a commission every month (Silverman, 2014).
In terms of efficiency, the commission is the most attractive approach to the compensation for the salespeople from the employers. However, there is a body of research that indicates that a combination of commission and base pay with a system of rewards and benefits is the most effective compensation plan that helps not only to retain the salespeople but also to motivate them to show better results (Davis, 2016). The system of rewards and bonuses assigned based on the performance of the employees ensures that the workplace environment is competitive and stimulating for the workers daily.
Another significant aspect of motivation is the promotion of commitment among the employees. The lack of commitment occurs when the salespeople stop believing that they can generate results. It is a frequent and powerful discouragement among the sales representatives to believe that the sales results do not depend on them. However, a skillful salesperson is capable of producing an impact on the clients and ensuring regular revenues as well as the maintenance of the long-term relationships with the clients. Sales can be difficult to accomplish, and that is why the employer is to develop a system of rewards to appraise the hard work of the staff.
To sum up, forming a sales team the employers are to think through multiple aspects and details. An excellent sales team is comprised of a combination of a strong and professional team manager, a group of diverse individuals who have versatile strong sides and can collaborate for the better results, sufficient training that involves the knowledge of the product and the customer base, and a system of incentives and bonuses that ensures a competitive environment in the sales department and rewards the hard work of the staff retaining the best talent. Finally, before the creation of such a team, all of its members including the manager are to be hired based on smart selective practices targeting the applicants based on the job competencies aligned with the interview questions. All of these aspects are intertwined, and the flaws at one stage will result in a lack of success in all the other areas.
Davis, J. B. (2016). How to Hire a Superstar Sales Team on a Commission Basis. Web.
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How to Build a Sales Team from the Ground Up. (2011). Web.
Silverman, R. E. (2014). Building Better Sales Teams, with Data. The Wall Street Journal. Web.
Weber, L. (2015). Why It’s So Hard to Fill Sales Jobs. The Wall Street Journal. Web.
Weber, J. (2016). 3 Steps to Building a Successful Sales Team. Web.
Zoltners, A. A., Sinha, P. K., & Lorimer, S. E. (2012). To build a great sales team, you need a great manager. Harvard Business Review. Web.