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Finding the Right Home for Your Sales Skills
By Lee Salz, President, Sales Architects

Want to find a new sales job? Think it is all about more money? Think again. There is much more to finding the right sales job than just earning potential. This article will show you how to find the right match for your skills.

It's that time of year again when salespeople peak their heads up from their cubicles to see if there is a better opportunity out there. So, what do I mean by "that time of the year?" Actually, it's most every day. The way most salespeople are wired, they have an insatiable urge for more. More money! More responsibility! More, more, more! Recruiters will often tell you that it is easy to get salespeople to consider a new opportunity regardless of their satisfaction level with their current job. As one recruiter shared with me, "The mere mention of the possibility of more money gets the engines going with salespeople."

This is where many salespeople are to be held responsible for sales marriages gone wrong. They are too easily blinded by the hopes of more dollars in their wallets. They fail to look at all of the criteria that affect success. Don't get me wrong. Money is important, very important. However, focusing on money as a primary decision point makes the dollars a mirage. I remember those old Indiana Jones movies where Indiana would be thirty feet away from the treasure. A few quick steps and the treasure would be his. Or would it? Lining the thirty feet of cavern were the dead bodies of those who attempted to merely grab the treasure. Indiana strategically approached the treasure to ensure he got it, and equally important, survived the venture.

The treasure for salespeople (also known as commissions) can be wrought with the same peril. If the employer presents a $250,000 opportunity, but the skills or activities required are not your strengths of, will you ever see those dollars? Highly unlikely. When I lived in the Washington D.C. Metro area during the dot-com craze, I saw many of my friends leave solid sales positions with Microsoft, Oracle, and Cisco for the chance at millions of dollars in stock options. For most, it was truly a mirage. Why?

Imagine, for a moment, you are calling on an IT manager representing Cisco. Just say the name, "Cisco," and poof, you have an appointment. The same is true for Microsoft, Oracle and other big name technology brands. Changing gears, you are now selling for ABC IT Services. You place a call to the IT manager and it is not received with a welcoming reception, but rather skepticism and disinterest. The successful salesperson needs the skills to get in the door with this IT manager before any buying facilitation can begin. If your background has been selling household brands and you haven't had to do this before, how likely are you to be successful at doing it unless the company is willing to teach you that skill?

For salespeople to put together a healthy, successful sales marriage with an employer, they need to formulate a profile just like employers do when hiring salespeople. For salespeople, it is the profile of the ideal sales opportunity. To formulate the profile, a historical and futuristic perspective is needed. The convergence of the two yields the profile.

To begin the exercise for formulating your profile, answer the following questions for each sales position you have held. Be totally honest with yourself in performing this exercise.

1.    Historical Strengths

a)  What are the attributes of the products that you sold? (tangible, intangible, product, service, etc.)

b)  What is the nature of the buying relationship? Is it a one-time, transaction sale or a repetitive, complex one?

c)  Is the product a component of something broader (niche) or is it a comprehensive solution?

d)  How recognizable is the product and company in the marketplace? Does the market know the brand?

e)  In contrast to the competition, where is the product priced?

f)  How are leads generated? (self-generated, company-generated (warm), mailing lists, etc.)

g)  What is the average length of the buying process?

h)  Is the product


Lee B. Salz is a sales management guru who helps companies hire the right sales people, on-board them, and focus their sales activity using his sales architecture

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