Are Your Salespeople Ready to Sell Integrated Proposals?
Here are some changes my company has made to meet these challenges.
Now we must place less emphasis on specific experience and personal contacts and more emphasis on the desire to learn and grow in the new era. We need people who want to sell the whole brand. We welcome salespeople with all types of media backgrounds, but the most important thing is the ability to understand, learn quickly, and sell the benefits of the elements including those in which the salesperson is not experienced.
For instance, we've been testing sales candidates for years with an industrial psychologist, Dana Borowka of Lighthouse Consulting, but the criteria are changing. In an interview for this article, Borowka said, "In today's world no one can afford to hire anyone less than an A or B player. Companies need individuals who are quick to adapt, have vision, are focused on the market, will help the client get what they need and close the opportunity, and will track, track, and track! All this while multitasking, staying focused, and constantly moving forward."
We invest in formal training as needed, providing company-wide webinars and individual sales training when we believe that performance can be improved. We spread needed skills to our salespeople by bringing in people with diverse backgrounds and encouraging them to work together in teams. For example, we hire people with digital or print sales experience, but we do not restrict them to digital or print sales, because we want their expertise to inform the other salespeople. We also generate ideas through structured "jam sessions," where any salesperson that gets stuck can call a brief meeting of available staff to brainstorm.
We do not try to teach salespeople to be technicians for each medium they sell but we do insist that they understand how the various products work individually and how they can be integrated to meet advertisers' goals. We don't want salespeople writing code or getting too deep under the hood. We do expect that our salespeople will be up-to-date with information in the trade press and to learn from other people in the industry. Above all, we want them to listen to their customers to find out what they are interested in right now and for the future.
Related story: Mr. Magazine's Take on the Latest Consumer Launches