We left off in March talking about the challenges of hiring both sales and technical next-generation talent to fuel your business growth. If you recall, I also shared a new acronym, RUPT — Ramp Up Productivity Time.
Experienced salespeople can have a RUPT factor of seven-nine months or longer. What about someone new to a selling career, let’s say a technician who wants to transition from the tool case to a brief case? What is the RUPT factor on that promotion look like?
Plenty of Positives, but Some Pitfalls Too
That depends on many factors. Moving a tech to sales could be a great decision if they are successful; or a particularly painful one if they fail to adapt. The positives include:
- They know your company and culture, which can be a BIG factor in their success.
- They have built relationships, which can be both positive and a bit negative at first. By this I mean the technicians they left will give them grief for going to the “dark side.” That sentiment will wear off over time.
- They know the security technology, and what it can and cannot do. They will typically be conservative in their claims, which make for happy customers.
- They carry “street cred” with customers, which can be a powerful differentiator.
Wow … with these great positive attributes, what could possibly go wrong with an internal promotion of a technician to a sales position? Here are a few things to consider:
- Their RUPT factor could be high. They must retrain their thinking from installation efficiency to sales efficiency.
- They can get lost in the technical details and correctness of their design, which may keep them from reading the buying signs of the customer.
- Their ability and desire to solve a technical challenge may result in providing prospects “free consulting” without being awarded business.
- Sometimes the most important element in their success is missed altogether — they are not trained to sell professionally. Because they know the industry and equipment, we often do not train them properly for a transition into sales.
Don’t Overlook Training; Some Recruits Are Naturals
You would never send a new technician out to your customers without investing in their training would you? Selling is no different. Selling is a skillset that is learned. The idea of a “born salesperson” is a myth. The better the training, the more it is practiced and coached, and the better the salesperson will become. There a few preliminary steps that can increase the chances of success along the way:
- Do some assessments to help predict their success in sales. We use a wide variety of these that are specific to a sales role and responsibility.
- Evaluate different sales training methodologies that match your company goals, beliefs and values. Selecting a strong closer selling style of training may not match a consultative style culture, for instance.
- They typically do not have bad selling habits — yet. Make sure they don’t develop them by being overly dependent on existing salespeople that do have those bad habits!
- Make time to coach them through their first year to develop their confidence and skills. Do not make the mistake of overestimating their abilities simply because they have the technical knowledge.
What about hiring a salesperson that is both new to our industry and a career of selling? Whoa, you’re thinking, the RUPT factor is just too steep of a curve and way too expensive to even consider that option! It could take years to train that individual to sell in our industry, right?
Maybe and maybe not. Consider an alternate and potentially deep sales hiring and recruitment pool — that your next-gen sales and technical talent comes from the U.S. military. Consider the following:
- They volunteered to serve a greater good and walk in harm’s way. Ideals, personal commitments and culture are important to them.
- They are disciplined and active learners of complex content in a compressed timeframe.
- They are accountable for their actions and will “own” their role on a team.
- They are mature beyond their years, goal orientated, and driven to be successful.
- We spent a great deal of our tax dollars to train them, so reaping some dividends is just plain smart business.
- They adapt, innovate and overcome challenges to prevail on the battlefield. This makes them well equipped for civilian career challenges.
- They don’t need a trophy for showing up to work everyday.
Finding the right talent pool to draw from can be challenging and vastly rewarding for those who are committed to their company growth and culture. We will be exploring this topic in greater detail at PSA’s TEC 2017 outside Denver May 7-11. Some great panelists are lined up for this discussion of next-gen talent acquisition. Come join our session and share your insights and experiences with your peers.