Ken Kuehn, CK Solutions, LLC
For Sales Success, Focus on Hiring for the Long Term
Today's recruiters are constantly receiving calls and wading through a sea of endless requests. More often than not, someone is calling in search of a standout salesperson who will propel the company into the number one market position. Invariably, the caller will quickly tell the recruiter they are looking for someone who is a "natural" salesperson, someone with the skill set to champion each new challenge, someone who smoothly speaks the industry lingo, and someone who can charm even the most price-conscious buyer out of his or her socks. Too bad this process isn't as simple as asking our fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and fill the order to everyone's desire! If only.
Many of us have experienced working with certain salespeople in the past who have come pretty close to filling the description above—and they were excellent sales producers. On the other hand, many of us also have worked with salespeople who were great at producing sales, but were not quite as charming—people who did not possess the ability to gab with prospects, or perhaps were not very extroverted. And guess what...they were excellent sales producers too. In fact, we have concluded that great salespeople are not born—they are made. While people may have been born with certain skill sets, it takes a lot of hard work, training and practice to truly hone the sales craft. After all, the saying "practice makes perfect" never truly loses relevance in any field.
We believe that the days of stealing the top competitor's salesperson has run its course; those days have been replaced with growing internal talent. While some think it is successful to poach other salespeople, it often leads to an increased labor cost structure, a decrease in margins, an increase in Rolaid's stock price and worn out delivery trucks.
The answer is to turn internally, and create a bench of young talent. This tactic was used years ago—before the inevitable age of instant gratification impeded the market. Although many companies cringe at the idea of investing the time and effort needed to accomplish this, it is important for them to understand that it will only grow their business in the long run and will pay off more than their short term gains.
Companies will ultimately reap the rewards of teaching new talent, but they must first create and implement a succession strategy and invest in training and development. While skills such as selling, product knowledge, technology usage and construction techniques can be taught, integrity, honesty and the desire to work hard come naturally. These qualities, combined with training and development, can make for your next super salesperson. It all comes down to priorities and if you are willing to invest the time and expense in their development—the choice is yours!
CK Solutions is a company dedicated to the lumber and building materials industry. We specialize in executive and general management recruiting and are also your resource for filling key facility, operations, manufacturing and sales management roles. Additionally, we offer consulting services from strategic planning to business valuations.