When is it NOT advisable to develop your existing salespeople?
The executive team
of a company whose sales force we recently evaluated wanted
to "retool" the sales force. Their salespeople were
comfortable selling into one of the three markets on which
they needed a presence, but not the other two markets. The
executive team wanted to know whether it was easier to hire
new salespeople or to develop the existing salespeople.
Generally, it's always wise to develop the people who are already
in place, but there are exceptions.
the existing salespeople aren't trainable (no incentive
the existing salespeople have so many weaknesses
that development could take years instead of months;
the existing salespeople are unwilling to sell into
a different market;
the existing salespeople are unable to sell using
a different approach (for example - a consultative
or solution based approach instead of a transaction
If the conditions under which a company should
hire rather than develop are clear, why do so many companies defy
logic and attempt to develop the people who aren't getting the
job done? I posed the following question to this client last week: "If
it was another company's sales force and you didn't know the salespeople,
have long-term relationships with them, strong feelings about them,
pride over your previous decisions or the hope that they would
eventually succeed, what would you tell the other executive team?"
They were unanimous
in their conclusion that if it was another company's sales force,
their suggestion would be to retool by hiring new salespeople.
They finally realized that their initial decision to retool via
development was not going to work out and acknowledged that they
made the decision with their hearts instead of their business
be implemented by either development, recruiting or a combination
of both but it is crucial to evaluate the sales force first.
Then you can learn whether the existing salespeople are candidates
for development, whether they can execute the new strategies,
how much development is required and what the development should
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