If youre trying to challenge your company to achieve greater business results, then you need all the help you can get. For example, you may be trying to open a new market, introduce a new technology, turn around a struggling team, or successfully merge two organizations. For these, you need all the help you can get. And the help you will need is not just technical help, or financial help or legal help. Youll need help with relationships and systems as well. You will need help establishing trust, building a positive culture, managing disagreements, and negotiating win-win solutions to problems, just to name a few. And perhaps most importantly, youll need help setting up systems and processes that reinforce the culture you are trying to create.
If youve never had a good human resources manager to help you build your sales & marketing team, you have missed something special. It is surprisingly easy to let emotions cloud your objectivity and inhibit your ability to see what is obvious to a third party. The value of having a coach who is a little removed from the day-to-day frustrations, and yet is expert in understanding human relationships in the workplace just cant be overstated. Yet many executives struggle on alone.
I had such excellent HR help in my first sales management position that I took it for granted that everyone had these kinds of resources. I was working for a large pharmaceutical firm then, but I found later that most companies cant afford strong HR or training departments. Even in large companies, Sales and HR management can drift apart. And I learned that many CEOs have never seen HR working well; so they dont understand the value and wait until serious problems evolve before bringing in help.
My HR colleagues tell me that they see salespeople and sales managers get in trouble in a couple of predictable ways:
- Salespeople tend to get in trouble for discipline reasons: not enough calls, lack of reporting, and yes, not enough sales.
- And sales managers get in trouble when too many of their people lose the edge, or dont have it to begin with, either because management skills are weak or because hiring and training skills need help.
These observations suggest that every company needs something more than a set of evaluation forms and a set of unwritten rules about how managers can get results. We can see that the work of HR managers and the work of sales managers need to come together into one focused program. What my company and your company needs is a carefully constructed performance management process.
It all starts with the work: asking ourselves what results we want and what tasks are required in our specific situation to get those results in a predictable way. We ask what steps a prospective customer will go through as they decide to purchase a product. The answers define the sales process. And we identify the points where a salesperson must be engaged in that process, and what skills are required at those points. You might say that we develop a sales strategy.
Once we are clear about the sales tasks, we can identify the skills, knowledge and abilities needed and begin to develop a job description, hiring profile and interview guides. We want to hire not just experienced sales people, but people who have been successful using the kinds of tactics that are required in our specific situation. Some companies need sales people who are good at cold-calling, others need people who are diligent with lead follow up, and others need those who can hunt down the one big deal that makes the year. Understanding these sales tasks can also be used to develop performance evaluation documents that really help managers and employees communicate about the work in progress and the skill areas where coaching is needed.
One of the most powerful tools in the management kit is the bonus plan. And yet this tool often gets so little attention that it becomes more a source of irritation than motivation. It can be tricky to figure out how to structure a compensation plan so that it reinforces your objectives, doesnt break the bank and still is reasonably fair, so this is an area where professional help and deep experience is extremely valuable.
We think the interaction between sales managers and human resource managers is so important that weve created a new training program called Sales + HR Management Accelerate Results (click for more info) to help executives who are trying to improve the effectiveness of their teams. We urge you to take a critical look at your HR systems and your sales process, especially if you have had only a little support in this area. And if you find you need help to make improvements, wed love to help.
Technical Sales Consultants, LLC