Redefining the Traditional Roles of Your Sales Force

April 20, 2016

Without a proficient sales team, your company isn’t going to get very far. You know that, of course. What you probably don’t know, though, is that organizations that truly succeed with their sales don’t use the language and roles most of us are used to. They long ago changed what it meant to sell for their company and have been benefiting ever since.

If you appreciate the importance salespeople play in the future of your company, then it’s time you redefine the traditional roles of your sales force and begin better utilizing your talent.

The Two Sides of a Traditional Salesperson

Those who don’t work in sales often have a way of explaining to others how good someone else is at it. They might say, “He can sell anything.”

Good sales people are more than just natural talent, though. In short, successful salespeople must have a masterful understanding of the products they are selling. Marc Cuban, the now-famous billionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, spent the better part of a decade learning everything he could about the computers he sold before eventually becoming one of the most revered salespeople alive.

Ergo, a salesperson isn’t just the snappy talker so many people associate with their job. Instead, they must have a gift for explaining their products and enticing prospects into becoming customers. To do this, they need to understand their products backwards and forwards. Overall, they need to exceed at building relationships with customers. This is an extremely underrated component of a successful salesperson.

This is the traditional view of the ideal salesperson. More often than not, though, a company is stuck with one of four personality types on their sales force – only one of which is actually going to produce beneficial results.

The Type of Person With No Place in Sales

If you have an employee who has zero technical competence and doesn’t show any people skills, then it’s time to find another place for them in your organization or simply cut ties with them altogether.

Later on, we’ll show why you can still leverage someone who is more proficient with one side of sales or the other. However, someone without an aptitude for either is, to be blunt, wasting your time.

An Expert Doesn’t Make a Good Salesperson

Then there are those who really understand your product. They could write their own book on the topic and have probably even read a few. This person either has a genuine passion for the product in question or has willed themselves to develop one. Either way, they’re definitely a product expert.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be any good at sales. This is a big misconception – that someone who knows everything about a certain product can automatically sell it. Sure, their passion can sometimes be contagious, but there are all kinds of reasons this enthusiasm simply won’t translate into profits.

“Schmoozers” Don’t Sell

On the other side of the spectrum is the “schmoozer.” This is the type of person who generally thinks they’re good at sales. To be fair, depending on the industry, they may even have a decent amount of success. If the price isn’t prohibitive, a lot of Schmoozers can often force the sale on a prospect who simply wants to be left alone.

This is not the type of individual to build your sales force on, though. Amongst other things, Schmoozers have no real sense of the product they’re meant to sell. It goes back to what we were talking about before – how the gift of gab isn’t good enough. Put a schmoozer in a room with people who genuinely understand their own needs and the options before them and you’ll see someone who simply isn’t good at sales.

An “Indispensable Partner”

Now we get to the ideal salesperson, what Steve Lishansky referred to as the “Indispensable Partner” in his book, The Ultimate Sales Revolution: Sell Differently. Change the World.

The Indispensable Partner is someone who excels at both technical competence and relationship building. If they do their job well, customers won’t see them as salespeople. Instead, they’ll be someone the customer begins looking at as a partner in their own success.

As an expert, the Indispensable Partner is someone customers will call upon again and again for help trying to figure out their next move. They may even get called in to give their input on critical development steps.

At the same time, the Indispensable Partner is more than just an expert. They are constantly building that important relationship between their company and the customers. On its face, this doesn’t seem like traditional sales, but it is just as – if not more – lucrative.

Aiming to create Indispensable Partners within your sales force is an extremely smart goal. You can further help them by making sure there are plenty of product experts able to keep them informed and allowing them to stay focused on building those all-important relationships with customers that ensure a consistent flow of revenue and a source that is unlikely to move on any time soon.

Still, there’s another important role you should add to your sales force in order to better increase your chances of success.

Add a Sales Engineer to Your Team

What is a sales engineer? They are those with a high-level of technical acumen where your products are involved, meaning they can operate and explain them with ease. That being said, they are also quality salespeople, too, who have no problem getting up in front of a group. This distinguishes them from the expert we brought up earlier.

Depending on your company, a sales engineer may do anything from demonstrating products to analyzing the competition to dealing with prospects to writing your company’s blog.

In this way, sales engineers wear many different hats. They might make sales from time to time, but that’s not their main focus. Again, that’s more for the Indispensable Partner. A Sales Engineer is more an individual who facilitates the sale. Their job can be seen as creating an environment that makes it easier for Indispensable Partners to succeed.

How to Utilize Both within Your Company

It might seem like your company is a long way off from having both Indispensable Partners and Sales Engineers, especially if you’ve long-depended on more traditional roles, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

At most organizations, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out which one of your sales associates belongs under which heading. Some of your sales professionals may already be operating as Indispensable Partners, for example, and you don’t even know it. They may have customers—or past customers—who contact them on a regular basis for their advice and direction.

Whatever the case, you’ll need to begin by reassessing how you view salespeople in your organization. Simply knowing everything about a product isn’t good enough, but neither is being a confident, influential people-person.

If you want extraordinary results for your company, you can’t continue to take average measures. One of those would be relying on traditional roles like so many of your competitors. Focus on creating Indispensable Partners and Sales Engineers within your organization and you’ll soon find your company tracking to higher growth.


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