Putting the right talent into the right job
May 12, 2011 1 Comment
Sometimes I think I’m rewriting Sales Management 101. However, when I come across an idea that I had put way back in my mind’s filing system, it occurs to me that many other seasoned professionals may also like to have their consciousness jogged on new twists to the basics.
I recently attended a MENG webinar by Mike Schultz of the Rain Group where he presented the concept of seven sales roles, or types. I had always considered two types: hunters and farmers. People who find and develop prospects then convert them into customers, and people who manage existing customers keeping them extremely satisfied and growing the business relationship and revenue from the account. These two types have a variety of titles that often overlap. In some companies an account manager is a hunter, in other companies the client executive is a farmer. The confusion has been growing for years. Yet to most, the function is very clear; you develop new business or maintain existing business. Of course there are variations on the theme; in some situations an Account Exec can be pure sales to an existing account that does not see value from having an account manager function … i.e. the total responsibility for every aspect of the business relationship. It just is not a black and white situation; there are varying degrees of each side of the hunter farmer equation.
But back to Mike Schultz. In their book, “Rainmaking Conversations”, he and colleague John Doerr describe seven roles for sales:
- Account Manager
Their refinement of the model reminded me of the importance of putting the right person in the right position to do the right job. I have commented in the past abut the errors that managers make when they take their best sales rep and move them into either an account management role or a management role and expect the same spectacular performance. Though quality people with the right motivations will adapt and quickly, it won’t be overnight, and they won’t be stellar performers in the first year or two. I’ve seen the same in reverse, were a super account manager is asked to take on a new accounts role. In either case, training, coaching and time on the job are essential to the success of the new job. But so are aptitude, attitude, and a desire to be in that role. If you don’t love prospecting, you probably will not be good at it. Conversely, if you don’t enjoy developing long term relationships that pay back over years, you will probably try to short cut the relationship development and go straight to the close at the risk of offending the account.
The best new accounts sales exec is motivated to find and close the next sale and then move on (hunt); the best account managers are motivated to grow business by satisfying the customer … two very different attitudes and motivators.
As I think about the refined, seven-role model in Mike and John’s book, I recall a really good sales guy that we had. We’ll call him Mal. He could open the door to any executive we wanted to meet in any industry. I don’t know how he did it, but he was awesome at getting meetings with very senior level executives in very large and prestigious companies. Yet, I quickly learned that once the call was arranged, Mal could not do it alone. He needed a sales engineer with him on EVERY call (the consultant in the Mike & John’s model). Our sales engineer listened and developed the solution, and helped qualify the prospect. After we had a good solution and proposal, we needed to send in Mal’s manger to close the deal, because it was just not Mal’s strength. Finally, by the nature of what we were selling, we assigned an account manager to expand the relationships, assure delivery was met and grow the business. These were big dollar contracts and each function/role was important. Mal was not able to manage the sale from prospecting to close, yet no one else in our group could open doors like he could. He was a key member of the team, as were the other players. He just needed to be in the right role. If you ever find another Mal, keep him or her. He or she will bring in many prospects; you just have to pair them with the right resources who now how to qualify and close rally big deals.
We’ll explore this topic more in next week’s blog.