As sales managers, we like to break salespeople up into three groups, at most: good, bad, and mediocre. That might work, at least marginally, when it comes to studying the raw numbers like how many accounts they have opened, or what sort of revenue they’re bringing in to the company. But as a recruiting and management strategy, it’s pretty terrible.
That’s because salespeople are just like any other type of professional – good at some parts of their job, and not as great at others.
This is true even for the superstars. While it might seem like you have a couple members of your team who can consistently sell and service their accounts at a higher level, I’d be willing to wager that a close look would reveal that they are actually stronger in some areas than others. Again, this is natural, and something that most of us recognize intuitively.
But what we don’t always pick up on is the correlation between the people we have on the payroll (along with their prospective talents) and the territories we put them in. But thinking these decisions through – and making adjustments as necessary – can have enormous long-term impacts on our department sales figures, not to mention the careers of the salespeople involved.
Think about it this way: the reason that we have so many different positions on sports teams is that, despite the fact that they are all athletic, different competitors have different talents and skills. So do your salespeople, and if you are playing them out of position, you can be sure it’s costing you some wins.
Naturally, unless your sales team is all in the same city, you aren’t going to be able to move your sales team around frequently, and the last thing you want is a game of musical chairs going on within different territories and accounts. But, as different members of your team move on, retire, get promoted, and so on, take care that you try to replace them with other salespeople – from within your department or without – that are a good fit for what’s needed. If you need a hunter who can open lots of accounts, for example, then hire one, or move one from another territory where a more customer service center approach is needed.
Over time, this will not only give you the right team, it will give you the right pieces in the right places. Never forget that every member of your sales team has different skills that they bring to the table. Your job is to find out where you can best help them succeed.
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