The sales and marketing conundrum: (Or, why is it so hard to find great salespeople?)

Inbound or outbound -- and lead quality -- are often determined by decisions and activities long before you see your first inquiry or make your initial sales call.

Recently, I reviewed some marketing material from a sales training outfit. The story: You have a problem in getting the maximum results from your sales team. We can help.

Of course, that marketing message doesn’t really provide a useful answer, unless of course you buy the line that by calling the 888 number and signing on with the sales training/management service, you’ll be given the holy grail? that provides every bit of truth you need to know.

I don’t doubt that some sales training systems provide real value, especially for people who have never worked in sales in their lives. My sense is their value diminishes for experienced sales representatives. If they are good, or superstars, they’ll absorb every bit of knowledge and understanding they can capture. If they aren’t, well, they probably won’t go much further despite any efforts you make at creating motivational “bumps” and providing training support.

The challenge is this: If you want to attract and retain the best salespeople, you’ll need to have enough of a market — and a high enough price-point/margin — to pay the representatives effectively. And if they have to work hard to find even the simplest of leads, you’ll find they move on to greener pastures sooner or later. You’ll have the happiest salespeople if the leads from motivated purchasers flow in and they simply need to pick them off and finish the order specifics/paperwork.

Hey, does that mean I am suggesting you need a product/marketing mix so good that your sales team effectively just become order takers if you want to succeed?

Well, not exactly, but I think that the harder it is for salespeople to make the connections and close the deal, the harder it will be for you to find worthy salespeople.

Let’s consider for example successful AEC practices, especially with seller-doers (Rainmakers), especially principals with a strong reputation for leadership and excellence in the field.

These companies don’t really have to push hard to find orders. Yes, they need to make good presentations, respond to inquiries, and continue to deliver the promised services. But it isn’t back-breaking business development effort.

So the way you can really boost your sales, and make the sales task more appealing to everyone involved, is to need to sell less. That of course requires you to deliver a product/service that clients really want. And it requires your focus to be on the delivery and marketing rather than finding the right salesperson, or “motivating” a low producer to higher levels.

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