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Building a Successful Sales Team: The Four Ingredients to a Winning Mix

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For service provider businesses to succeed, they need an effective and dedicated sales team. Executive leadership needs to make sales a priority, build a strong team and put them in a position to succeed. To help, the CA Service Provider Center of Excellence has developed a sales recruitment and development model.

Sales and revenues are too critical to leave to chance, guesswork or wishful thinking. Sales efforts are also far too important to leave to part-time staff or a single executive. For service provider businesses to succeed, they need an effective and dedicated sales team. Quite simply, executive leadership needs to make sales a priority, build a strong team and put them in a position to succeed.

To help service provider leaders who are struggling with the challenges of building a productive sales team, the CA Service Provider Center of Excellence has developed a sales recruitment and development model (see figure below).

Drawing from this model, we’ve developed the contents below, which are focused on four key areas:

  • Knowing what to look for in evaluating reps.
  • Understanding what the best reps are looking for when they’re evaluating prospective career opportunities.
  • Effectively recruiting and hiring top talent.
  • Equipping reps with the resources they need to be successful.

Knowing What to Look For in Candidates

Before any efforts are put into recruitment, it is essential to take a detailed look at the specific skills, competencies, experiences and responsibilities that will be sought in each of the roles being filled. This includes distinguishing between the key capabilities required of an account rep and those of a sales team or territory manager.

It is also important to understand the specific requirements and characteristics of selling a service. This is particularly true if your organization is in the midst of making the transition from being a value-added reseller to adopting a recurring, managed services model. The characteristics and attributes that make sales reps effective at selling products won’t necessarily make them effective at selling services. In fact, the makeup of the ideal candidate for each of these sales roles can vary dramatically.

In looking to find the right sales rep for your organization, there are three dimensions to consider:

  • Aptitude. The inherent mindset and characteristics the candidate brings to your organization.
  • Experience. The roles your candidate has held prior to joining your organization.
  • Skills. The talents and capabilities the candidate has developed.

Understanding What Candidates are Looking For

To effectively recruit the best sales people, it’s vital to understand their mindset, what motivates them and what they’re looking for when they’re considering a new opportunity. Following are some of the key factors that drive sales representatives’ decision making, and insights for how to address these areas in promoting your company and positions:

  • Making money. Solid reps will want to get a good handle on the position’s money-making potential. Try to show how sales efforts and goal attainment are repeatable, and not one-time events.
  • Joining a winner. Like anyone, a good sales rep will want to go to a company that has a bright future. If two positions are available with similar salary ranges, most reps will opt for the company with the best prospects. That’s why, as detailed below, it’s critical to sell the company and position to candidates during the interview process.
  • Advancing a career. Strong sales reps will be looking for a position that helps them fulfill their career aspirations.  Therefore, early on, it’s important to identify what the candidate’s aspirations are, and map out a path that realistically delivers on that vision.
  • Benefiting from a strong corporate infrastructure. Seasoned sales reps will realize that they can’t do it alone; they need a strong corporate infrastructure behind them to succeed, and they’ll be looking to make sure those resources are available in any new role they’re considering.

Effective Recruitment and Hiring

To realize maximum success in your recruiting efforts, you should look to pursue some of the following high-level strategies:

  • Harness the recruiting power of happy employees. When it comes to attracting and retaining the right people, happy employees can have a multiplier effect—representing the best way to attract qualified new talent. In this regard, it’s important to view employees like clients: They need to be willing to act as a reference for your business. Also, an incentive-based employee referral program can be a key driver in attracting top talent to the organization.
  • Recruit by engaging in the community. It is also important to be part of the service provider community. Today, there are forums, groups, conferences, panel discussions and a host of other arenas in which you can participate in this community, and contribute to its advancement. By gaining visibility as an expert and a contributor, you and your organization can enjoy a range of benefits, including getting help with recruiting.
  • Nurture and recruit from within. Some of the best sales talent is inside your company today. Service provider executives need to make employee development a priority.
  • Sell your company during interviews. During interviews, it is important to recognize that selling needs to go both ways. Candidates need to sell their background and talents, and you need to sell the value of your business, including its culture, people, potential and opportunities. To effectively sell the candidate on the opportunity, it is critical that they hear a consistent story from every company representative they speak to.

Equipping Reps with the Resources They Need

Even the best sales reps can’t go it alone. To be successful, they need the following:

  • Effective sales leadership. Successful sales teams don’t just happen, they are built, and the role of sales and business leadership is vital in this effort. Whether yours is an early stage or mature service provider organization, it’s vital that executive leadership themselves have solid sales and mentoring skills. If you’re currently managing the role of sales leadership, it is important that you take an honest look at your aptitude, experience and skills, and determine whether you’re the right person to be in that role long term, and, if not, find someone who is.
  • Enablement resources. Having a well-defined service catalog is one of the key components to helping build scalability and repeatability into your sales efforts. Having strong reference accounts is also a critical success factor. In addition, your business should provide reps with sales and marketing collateral, value propositions, objection handling and target customer profiles.
  • Standardized training. Standardized training is a highly effective way to build consistency and repeatability across your sales team. This can include training on specific solutions and services, as well as detailed insights into organizational processes, which is vital to helping ensure sales reps can get things done efficiently within the organization.
  • Sales process and systems. To cultivate leads and ultimately close business, sales reps need to go through a series of workflows and steps, and the better your organization supports these efforts, the more effective the sales team will be.
  • Technical resources. Having a strong solution architect or engineering team member available to participate in meetings and field technical questions is vital in establishing confidence with the prospect and furthering the sales process.

Conclusion

To realize success in sales, service providers must establish an organization that cultivates successful sales reps, repeatable sales processes and scalable revenues. To realize these objectives, executive leadership needs to make sales a priority, recruit and hire the right people and equip them with the incentives and resources they need. For more in-depth discussion and guidance on these topics, be sure to download the following white papers (which are available via one-click access, no registration required):

Sales Representative Recruitment and Development: Keys to Hiring the Best People for Your Service Provider Business—and Setting Them up to Succeed

Winning the Sales Recruitment: Race Understanding the Top Reps’ Mindset, so You Hire the Best Talent

This guest blog comes from The CA Service Provider Center of Excellence. The CA Service Provider Center of Excellence delivers the proven strategies and insightful resources that can help your business boost its efficiency, profitability and maturity. No matter where your service provider business is in its evolution, count on the Center of Excellence to provide the guidance you need to more fully leverage your technologies and investments, optimize your operations, enhance your go-to-market capabilities and scale intelligently.

 

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Dec 20, 2013

Please be sure to access the greatly expanded guidance on this blog topic through the two whitepaper links at the end of this article [1-click access].

Also, you can find an additional rich set of MSP business enablement resources at CA's MSPZone located at http://www.mspzone.com. When you get to the MSPZone look for the Service Provider Playbook and be sure to click on the Business Strategies, Business Operations, and Sales & Marketing links. I'd love to hear any feedback on the usefulness/value of our MSP resources.

Ken Vanderweel
Sr. Director, Global Service Providers
CA Technologies

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