Last week, we discussed why the sales industry needed a Henry Ford assembly line. We determined that while the technology that we use has changed over time, our sales structure’s foundation has not.
Before Ford's assembly line, auto manufacturers built cars one-at-a-time. They hired a skilled artisan who would build the vehicle from the ground up, which meant that Ford had to hire people who knew every aspect of the vehicle. From connecting an engine to a frame, steering to the chassis, installing seats, builders had to know how to do it all.
It’s what we expect salespeople to do with radio and television stations. Don't we still expect salespeople to also do it all?
Stop Looking for a Sales Unicorn
When recruiting for new sales reps, we want someone who can compile a prospect list, get an appointment, perform a needs analysis, create a presentation, present a proposal, close the deal, do all of the paperwork, write a spot, manage their clients, upsell them, and collect the money. We’re looking for a sales unicorn!
That is a lot of skills and talent that we’re expecting reps to have in order to be successful. And to be honest, not many of the "old reps" had them all. We all know that most salespeople are good at a few of these, but not all of them. Which is why we need to look at the total restructuring of our sales organizations. We need to build a sales assembly line.
Build Your Sales Assembly Line
To start our assembly line, we need to determine what are the categories of different kinds of tasks that compose the sales process. We tend to break them out into three areas:
- Lead Generation — any action or activity that is involved with identifying new prospects, setting appointments, and generating inbound leads, whether they are sales or marketing qualified leads.
- Selling Solutions — any action or activity that will lead to a direct sale, whether new or renewal business. This can include needs analysis meetings, creating proposals, presenting, and closing the sale.
- Serving Clients — any action or activity that involves fulfilling an agreement, promotion, or servicing the needs of a current client.
When you break out the steps within the sales process, you start to see where there is a clear delineation between salespersons daily activities. You can also see how having one or two people focused on each phase of the process would not only lead to a more efficient sales force but also a more productive sales team.
Rethink Your Sales Structure
Imagine having a team of lead gen specialists focused solely on setting appointments for your Account Executives. Your Account Executives could then focus their time and energy on sales-related activities, like meetings and presentations.
If you want to get high-tech, you could also have sales strategies, whose role is to only create solutions and proposals for your AE's. And finally, once a sale is closed, the AE hands everything over to an Account Manager who concentrates on making sure everything is executed properly and the client is happy.
By rethinking how your sales team is structured, you have the opportunity to recreate your sales force based on the realities of the 21st century, rather than be handcuffed to how the world worked nearly a hundred years ago.