When it comes to sales, should salespeople do it all, or should individual functions be divided among multiple people, each having specialized responsibilities? I’ve had several conversations lately about the virtues of each approach.
Do it All vs. Split it Up
Is the do-it-all method, where one salesperson hunts, closes and then manages the accounts after the sale better than, say, where an inside salesperson handles the inbound or outbound calls (or a sales development rep, as they are commonly called, gets appointments scheduled) and other salespeople conduct those meetings and close the sale? The truth is: each way may be right or wrong.
The correct structure is likely dictated by both the abilities of current personnel and the company’s desired selling scenario. What I mean is that you must pay attention to whom is available now to execute your goals. AND, you must pay attention to what is the best way to make sales, whether the personnel now are optimal or not. If they’re not, you’ll need to upgrade your team over time.
Too often I see companies hamstrung by the existing team talent and an unwillingness by leaders to set new expectations, along with a reluctance to make changes if people on the team aren’t the right ones to take the company where it needs to go.
Looking at Skills
To effectively transform a team to execute in an optimal way, you must first analyze what skills are needed. We use the OMG sales force analysis tools to identify qualities needed for different sales competencies. Click here to see why. So, as an example, let’s look at how Hunter traits compare to those for Account Manager:
|The Hunter Competency||The Account Manager Competency|
There really isn’t any overlap. It takes different talents to be good at each competency. However, time and again we see companies structured so that those very talented Hunters must also become Account Managers. Yes, there are individuals who are proficient at both, but people are more frequently wired one way or the other.
So, if sales aren’t what they should be, it might make sense to look at the different behaviors being asked of your salespeople to determine who is a better fit for what role now. Then, examine what the organization should look like in the future to get optimal results, and plan to get the right people into those roles.
Oh, if you are separating roles of individuals, then there cannot be a one-size-fits-all compensation plan either. Hunting is harder than account management. Individuals should be compensated based on the value they bring to the company and the degree of skill required to do the job.
How Individual Selling Functions Vary
When it comes to having individuals in separate roles, we need to slice the data with a little bit more granularity and question the specific traits necessary to be effective at each position.
Sales Development – The differences between sales development – getting the appointment – and the sales closer – the salesperson who will close the business – is an interesting one. The appointment setter is slightly different than the excellent closer. They must develop rapport quickly; and at least identify the prospect has a problem your company can solve and that they are talking the right person within the target. They do not have to fully qualify or cause the prospect to spend any money. They merely must get them to agree that it is worth their time to have a deeper conversation with someone else. In addition, sales development people must be able to recover from rejection quickly. They are probably externally motivated and somehow excited to pound out the calls or emails to get to a certain number of appointments. Sales Development roles can be characterized in a couple ways.
Inbound Salespeople – They need to be able to connect in a service fashion first to gain the trust of the individual calling in. Clearly, there is something going on that is compelling enough to cause the person to call. The inbound salesperson should be adept at uncovering what that is efficiently and do an expert job of qualifying for an appointment. This individual needs to be able to easily shift from one conversation to the next and be in the moment to make the most of the benefit of the caller being interested in your services.
Outbound Salespeople – Their skills are marginally different than inbound-only salespeople. The outbound caller must be able to not only eloquently interrupt whatever the target prospect is doing at the time of the call; they must also help them understand why it would be beneficial to talk on the phone about a problem the prospect may not even know they have. The outbound-only position requires better relationship building, consultative and questioning skills than the inbound-only position. In other words, to be effective, outbound-callers require a greater collection of sales skills.
Sales Closer – The salesperson who is expected to close must also be a good relationship builder, a great qualifier (remember that it is just an appointment, the prospect isn’t completely qualified), must be consultative and follow a predictive structured sales process. And, oh yeah, they must be able to close if closing is possible. You can see why it’s easy to make a case to have appointment setters who spend their time hammering the phones (and email) to get appointments, and closers who spend their time qualifying and, well, closing.
No Uni-size Solution
Be assured of one thing: There is absolutely no one-size-fits-all approach to a sales organization. We know there are certain qualities and traits that lend themselves to individuals conducting certain aspects of the sales role, but don’t get caught up in doing it just like everyone else. Analyze the talent you currently have and utilize them in the most functional way based on the abilities they have. But always strive for the exceptional and help your team evolve to it.