When building or rebuilding your sales force, consider the complexity of selling your product or service. This helps determine the skills, style and expertise you need to look for when hiring sales reps. Answer these four questions:
Are your product’s differentiators easily understood and accepted by the market?
Products that are easily understood, inexpensive and non-critical are usually commodities. If customers perceive your products as commodity-like, you need sales reps who can sell the features that differentiate your product, such as: service, delivery time, availability, minimum order quantities, brand, company reputation, relationships and, lastly, price.
Is the need for your product or service easily understood?
If you’re selling a product or service that addresses an uncommon need, or addresses a common need from a different angle, you’ll need a more knowledgeable sales rep who can communicate complex concepts in simple terms. The sales cycle may be longer and require more patience. You need sales reps with persistence and patience.
These sales reps tend to call at higher levels in customer organizations. They need to be more strategic in their thinking and focus on the customer’s bigger picture. When calling at executive levels, your sales reps’ skills need to be geared toward selling solutions and building relationships. Reps who call at operational levels in the customer organization need strong technical expertise.
Is your product expensive?
Selling an expensive product or service requires cost justification. Look for sales reps with financial analysis skills. These reps need to be comfortable identifying costs and quantifying benefits for the customer. They need to calculate returns on investment over time, which requires an understanding of the time value of money.
Is your product critical to your customer’s business?
If your customer relies heavily on your type of product or service for the success of his business, the customer perceives greater risk in adopting a new product or switching to a new vendor. For these mission-critical products or services, you need sales reps with whom the customer will be comfortable, who can be viewed by the customer as knowledgeable, and who treat the customer’s interests as primary. These sale reps need to be trustworthy and strong relationship builders.
Good sales reps require many other skills and traits. When building your sales force, consider the complexity of your sale and look for the specific skills outlined above.
For more information, contact Wallace Management Group at (203) 834-0143 or email David Wallace.
© 2009, David P. Wallace