It seems like a simple concept – the role of a sales rep – especially when we apply straightforward labels like “hunter” or “farmer;” or our favorites, “Dobermans,” “Retrievers,” and “Collies” (actually, we go on to include Service Dogs, Pointers, and my personal favorite, the Mutt. That’s a topic for another blog). These labels distinctly describe what the role will do.
But as we all know, humans are complex and tend to defy such pigeonholing. So we go beyond the label and design territories and customer segments. Which methods of clarifying the sales role will increase productivity?
We recently worked with a company who had to take five different sales organizations they had acquired over time and create one functional sales organization. Within that entire sales function there were 35 different job titles. They took several steps to simplify.
1. Clarifying the Role. Everybody sort of approaches this a little differently. This company, a major retailer, began with a certain role, clear responsibilities, and a job title. They made everybody very clear on what their operating objectives were.
2. Matching Products and Customers. Then they made sure each role had the right products for the right customers. There are customers in their business that are very sophisticated, and ones who aren’t at all. At the time, this company was trying to move their organization from a transactional sale – “You can have this for a buck” – to somebody selling conceptually by saying, “This is an annual merchandising program where we are going to sell millions of those bottles of water.” Not just that item for that price.
3. Match Talent to Customers. Another priority of this company was to increase the quality of their sales organization. You don’t want to put the wrong person with the wrong customer; for example, you certainly don’t want to take a person with a Harvard MBA and assign them to a Mom & Pop store that only wants to deal with item and price. Instead, you’d place that person – most likely a person that has tools, perspective, and strategy – with major retailers, because he or she would create business solutions.
Selling is coming down to solutions. Simplifying the role, where possible, to focus on matching the right customer with the right products and the right talented sales rep – the ones that understand the customer – will create points of difference for your organization.