In the business world it’s often been said, “Our strongest asset is our people.” But how often is it stated that they are also your greatest weakness? Every business can benefit from a reality check. If you use a systematic strategy for developing the people in your key roles, that reality will likely reveal the valuable human assets on your team.
Assuming you have systems and processes in place, you’ve probably identified the key job roles for all the management and staff positions needed to run your business. Now the hard part; finding and managing the right people for those positions.
Many experienced business owners and sales managers will tell you that the sales role is among the hardest to find qualified candidates for, and the most difficult to manage. Finding and keeping competent, professional salespeople remains a top management challenge everywhere.
Here in New Hampshire, it can be even harder to recruit experienced sales and management talent as our unemployment rates tend to stay pretty well below national averages even during downturns in the economy. People who want to work are working and sales is always in demand.
Lately, the challenge of just keeping your best salespeople, or any other valuable employees, becomes a top priority as they probably have plenty of options available in the employment market right now.
Taking Care of Who you Have
The various positions in your organization need to be defined in terms of their business function and integrated into your processes and systems. We could easily write a textbook chapter about strategizing key positions but our focus in this discussion is on human beings.
The people you have on your team now are with you for a reason, right or wrong, and it’s crucial to understand your relationship with every member, including how well they fit into their positions and execute their roles, or not.
Each salesperson needs to perform up to a measurable standard of results. When you have someone who continually struggles, decisions must be made about developing the person through training and coaching or letting the person explore new avenues.
We suggest that you determine where things stand in your organization now and consider a 4-step plan to better manage your people for their assigned roles.
4-Step Strategy for Developing Your People
It can be very helpful to encapsulate the fundamentals of your business functions such as managing salespeople and other teams. While volumes are written and courses are taught about it, we’ll offer a few helpful, top-line basics so you can begin to apply a proven development strategy in your business.
1. Assess all current employees for your identified positions and roles.
Some of your current employees may fit ideally where they are while others might be happier and perform better in a different position. Pigeonholing someone into a role “because they’ve always done it” could lead to unpleasant disruptions down the road. You need to remain objective as you determine who in what roles can best contribute to achieving the organizational vision.
2. Determine the positions where new employees are needed and recruit.
Where are the vacant positions? What about adding new ones where you’re feeling the pull to expand the team? Once you know your current people are situated in the right positions, it’s time to recruit from the outside. We strongly suggest making every effort to resist hiring too fast or deciding from your gut. The last thing you want is a bad hire and all the unrecovered costs. Conduct objective candidate assessments and get reputable outside assistance for this if needed.
3. Establish a budget and plan for training and development.
The top performing organizations throughout the world dedicate resources to developing their people. More poignant than ever is the little skit, “What happens if we invest in all that training and they leave? What happens if we don’t train them and they stay?” Not only does setting aside time and money to building up your people send a strong, positive message to them and the market, it also delivers positive results to your top and bottom lines.
4. Create individual career development plans for each employee.
What’s it going to take for each team member to develop their needed talents, improve their skills and up their performance? This is such a vitally important question. If you want your people to know how much you care about them and their future, you need to show them. Agreeing to work on a collaborative plan for individual growth and development is a mutually beneficial commitment. Investing in and implementing the right training plan makes the growth happen.
Diligently following this 4-part strategy, you will be able to identify, attract and support good people throughout your company. When you can find and secure the best individuals and put then in the right positions, your company will be traveling the road of organization excellence.
Discover and focus on the 5 critical elements that drive success within a typical sales environment.