How Does Salesmen Training Differ for Davids and Goliaths?
Large and small security companies have different resources available to them and therefore have different hiring and training principles when it comes to sales staff.
To train or not to train, that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous sales forecasts or take arms against our sales troubles. (Apologies to the Bard.) Our question, in modern English: Is it better to quietly suffer the indignities of inexperienced or underdeveloped sales teams, or should you restring your bow for a more competitive battlefield? I go with choice B.
The choices for grooming and growing a competent salesforce remains a challenge in our industry. There is no shortage of people, companies and books that will help transform your sales team into a well-oiled revenue producing machine. Oh, if it were just that simple, life would be grand. There are no easy fixes; however, there are some lessons learned that can help guide your thinking. Think about David and Goliath.
Develop Sales Muscle/Brain Memory
By any measure we are a very fragmented industry that is composed of many Davids and a few Goliaths. The David-type companies vary in size, role and sophistication, with revenue streams from $1 million to $50 million. Growing up from infancy to toddler to teen to young adult forms their business culture and revenues, but not necessarily polished sales skillsets. Sales teams are often selected from employees who have worked their way up in the company or “I know a guy that is a great salesperson.” They probably fit into the company culture, but can they deliver real sales growth in the markets you covet? What is your method of training to ensure more consistent results? There are certainly plenty to choose from these days.
The Goliath companies have training resources, recruiters, policies and procedures aplenty. They have thorough hiring and training processes to ensure the greatest possible success rates. They assign a sales manager who is busy with administrative tasks, reports and dealing with the bigger jobs that their veteran sales teams bring to the table. The veterans often view the new sales hire as a nuisance or distraction to making the quota for the month. They can’t waste time mentoring a new person; sink or swim, buddy! That is often the reason for Goliath’s high sales turnover rates. What role does sales training play in this puzzle?
A big part, if the training is done correctly. Training and learning are two important sides of the sales performance coin. Training essentially means an individual can perform specific tasks consistently well every single time regardless of the circumstance. Call it sales muscle memory. Active learning is a very different story. It is the ability to apply past training to a changing environment to produce positive and consistent outcomes. Call it sales brain memory. If both of these disciplines are ingrained in an individual, you just add attitude and direction and … a great security solution salesperson is born! It may be time to reexamine your approach to sales training to ensure better results.
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3 Key Questions Aid Hiring Process
How can you use this knowledge to build a stronger sales team? Hire very slowly; fire fast as lightning. Hiring should be a methodical process to adequately vet anyone associated with solving your sales puzzle. Have they been trained and are they active learners? Put more of your team’s eyes on the person, process or consultant who claims to be able to help you gain sales revenue traction. Easier said than done, or is it? Maybe a little coaching from your Virtual Sherpa can help guide you on the trek. Here are some questions worth considering.
- What experience do you have selling XX products to XX customers in XX region in the past XX years?
- What would be your 30-60-90-day plan to ramp up sales revenues, and what realistic progress could we expect in each of those time segments?
- What sales culture, company characteristics and customer decision makers are you most effective and efficient working with?
The Virtual Sherpa will lead you to the same answer for each question: Generalities bad … specific examples good.
Those questions cover the David side. What about the Goliath side of this tale?
Remember, the Goliaths are well-funded, likely more sophisticated and may have more seasoned leaders and troops. They may even have entire training departments dedicated to their sales teams. They can pay retainers for recruiters, pay signing bonuses, are perceived as less risky and more stable, and have a big-time brand name that is easy to sell. They also don’t typically admire sales entrepreneurs that desire creativity, faster decision making and love to adapt quickly to changing client demands. They have policies for a reason and expect you to stick to them.
Every company has a culture regardless of their size. Not every company culture is a good fit for an entrepreneurial person, and not every entrepreneurial company is a good fit for a policy and procedural salesperson. Recognize the difference when you make your next sales hiring decision.
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