There are many things said about salespeople. Some consider them annoying prima donnas who must be “catered to.” Others see them as out of control mavericks who must be contained. Yet others consider that they can’t be trusted and must be closely monitored. Interestingly, though, even such detractors of salespeople see them as unique and extraordinary people who do a job that most other people can’t.
There is one truth that is universally accepted, begrudgingly or otherwise: no company can do without salespeople. Their success equals the company’s success. Forward-thinking companies are finally realizing just how valuable their salespeople are—that they are actually “entrepreneurs within the enterprise.” When given space, fully supported and empowered, they meet and exceed quotas, and are essential and consistently valuable contributors to a company’s bottom line. View your salespeople as entrepreneurs:
Entrepreneurs play a vital role in society. It is demonstrable that the entrepreneur is actually central to an economy. The entrepreneur is the one who is constantly seeking out opportunity and utilizing it for profit, and is quite creative in the ways which this is done. It could be said that a strong economy could not exist without them.
Companies are starting now to see that they have this type of personality working right in their sales force. If you closely examine a salesperson, they have most or all of the qualities you would expect to find in an entrepreneur. They see opportunities others would miss, and possess the understanding and ingenuity to take advantage of those very opportunities—that is what makes them salespeople.
Entrepreneurs specialize in weighing risk versus reward, and have an innate sense of how much risk to venture against a potential reward. Salespeople possess this capacity also as they are consistently risking company time and resources, as well as their own time and incomes on any sale they are undertaking.
Like entrepreneurs, salespeople are happiest not on a regular salary but creating their own incomes; they’ll willingly take the risk of weeks where money is thin to achieve the reward of having others that pay magnificently.
Exploiting Entrepreneurial Spirit
The traditional method of running a sales force has required salespeople to strictly follow a sales process and to constantly report in on their progress. Sales strategies have too often been evolved at an executive level with little to no input from salespeople; sales reps are simply expected to adhere to them. It has been more or less a “top down” operation.
Running sales forces this way is virtually wasting a considerable company asset. Salespeople are the first real point of company contact—they possess insight into prospects and customers that others in the company will never have. This comes simply from their day in and day out interaction. Forward-thinking companies have now realized this, and are soliciting input from sales reps prior to the implementation of any sales strategy. They know what will work and what won’t, and themselves are a storehouse of plentiful ideas for strategies that probably have not even been considered elsewhere in the company.
Some companies are even inviting input from sales reps into product development—for who better knows what customers are saying about the product and potential improvements to it?
Another approach being taken is to give reps latitude in making sales. While using the sales process as a guideline, they are being allowed to stray from it and use their own judgment when they see a different tact that will more likely lead to the close. Their instincts are what got them where they are today; when allowed to fully use them, salespeople will take themselves—and more importantly, your company—even further.
Give Them the Tools
If a salesperson is to fully function as the entrepreneur he or she actually is, one considerable burden must be removed. Salespeople, in traditional operations, are expected to create reports and input considerable data into CRM applications—without much benefit themselves of that data. This turns them into virtual data-entry clerks that also happen to sell.
A CRM application that is truly a solution is one that empowers salespeople as entrepreneurs. It is intuitive—meaning it mirrors the sales process of their company. Data can be rapidly entered and easily retrieved, allowing salespeople to easily track and control their individual sales pipelines. Sales management is also the beneficiary of such a solution, for analyses and forecasts can be rapidly accomplished without unnecessary interaction with the sales force for the purpose of data gathering, thus providing more time for the sales force to be actively selling.
Salespeople are, in fact, entrepreneurs. Treat them as such, and see the results in your own sales achievements as a company.