In a perfect world, sales departments hire three different types of people — then they let them play to their strengths. There are different types of sales jobs for different types of people. As a manager, you need to use that to your advantage.
There are hunters, farmers, and account managers. And typically, a person good at making phone calls isn’t good at closing… and vice versa. Usually, these three different roles require three different personality types. If you want to get the most from your sales team, you need to make sure you have all the needed personalities covered.
Different Jobs Need Different People
People need sales roles that fit their personalities — which I learned the hard way in my years running call centers. A person great at sales typically isn’t great at prospecting because they don’t like to be told no.
There’s a high turnover for telemarketers too. It’s grueling low-wage work that pushes most people outside their comfort zone since they’re cold-calling strangers all day. The average telemarketer only stays six weeks.
Most companies accommodate for this by giving their marketers a script. Then they deliver a live version of a pre-recorded message. But we were in a different situation. We sold high-ticket items to executives. We couldn’t expect good results from our employees just reading scripts. So we focused on finding the right types of people and creating a sales team structure that worked for everyone. Consequently, most of our telemarketers worked for us for years (not months), and our sales were top notch.
Here’s how we did it.
1. We figured out WHO to hire.
We gave all applicants a version of a personality test to see if they’d fit with the demands of the job.
2. We optimized the work environment.
For cold-calling, more breaks are better. So we gave all workers a ten-minute break every hour. Now, they didn’t need to have conversations about who’s going to the bathroom at what time. They just had to stay with the calls for 50 minutes of every hour.
3. We stopped work at 2:00 p.m. on Fridays.
In business-to-business sales, not much happens on Friday afternoons. So we gave our employees the afternoon off each week. They got a long weekend. Plus, they had a few business hours left to schedule doctors appointments or run to the bank so they didn’t have to take time off during the week.
4. We sold them on their work.
We all want to feel satisfied — like what we’re doing matters. So we helped our telemarketers believe in what they sold. They didn’t need to understand all the details, but they needed to believe in our product’s ability to provide solutions.
In call centers, we were looking for people that could go out and find new prospective buyers. These had to be people that could bounce back from rejection and move on to the next prospect. But this is only one step of the buying process. To take someone from prospect to client to satisfied customer, you actually need three types of people to work three different stages of the sales process.
3 Essential Sales Roles of the Perfect Sales Team
The sales process is broken into three stages: prospecting, closing, and managing accounts. Rather than make each salesperson responsible for different clients as they walk through each stage, designate the roles of hunters, farmers, and account managers.
These are the salespeople who find new leads and generate more business. They hunt for the next big sale. They’re responsible for keeping active opportunities in the pipeline.
These are your cultivators. They take the leads from the hunters and cultivate the relationship. They’re great closers — they know how to move people from interested to sold.
3. Account Managers
These salespeople keep your current customers happy. They maintain the relationship and boost sales by meeting the needs of the clients you already have. They treat each customer like your best prospect — because they are.
Rather than force your salespeople to play all these parts, give each salesperson one role to master. Use their giftedness to determine where they fit best — then let them focus on clients for that particular stage of the sales process before passing them to the next person.
When sales teams manage their accounts singularly, they have lots of ups and downs in sales. They’re reactive to their pipeline. They have an on-quarter, then an off-quarter. Why? They make a lot of calls, get a lot of appointments, and go to these appointments. But while they’re following up with their leads, they stop making the calls to keep their pipeline filled. When the smoke clears, they have to start all over again.
So, if it’s possible, have different people in each role. People will work where they thrive to boost the sales of the entire team.
For more on hiring, check out this post: Avoid These 4 Costly Mistakes When Hiring a Sales Team
What If You Only Have One Salesperson?
Maybe you’re not to the point where you have three salespeople that can meet these three different roles. That’s okay. Knowing these three roles can still improve your approach to sales. Here’s how to make it work:
1. Spend time in each role.
Realize that there are three stages of the process — and each stage needs attention.
2. Focus on getting activity.
Keep making those cold calls. Keep making those appointments. If you keep up the activities that generate sales, sales will eventually follow.
3. Establish processes.
How do you follow through on leads and clients to keep everyone on board? Create timelines and scripts for follow-up so you don’t neglect any particular area.
4. Minimize data entry.
You didn’t hire your salespeople so they could do reporting. You hired them for sales relationships — so that’s where they need to spend their time. Yes, you need to know their activity levels. And typical CRMs require about 3-5 hours a week of data entry. If you could cut that down to 1-2 hours, what would that mean to your company? Rather than plugging in records, your salesperson gets to keep generating leads and managing clients.
Now, if you have 20 salespeople, how much more does less data entry impact your company? If every salesperson saves just one hour per week, you now have 20 extra hours of sales-focused time. That’s 20 more appointments or 200 more cold calls… and that means more clients!
When you trim back the activities that don’t lead to sales, you can maximize the activities that get results.