Whilst the UK is currently enjoying an embarrassment of riches when it comes to young creatives,
there is a marked shortage of emerging young sales talent. What can be done to rectify this?
We’ve recently undertaken a great deal of training with our guys. It’s about not going in to clients with pre-conceived solution. It’s about listening more and speaking less. We’ve adopted this approach over the last 12 months and our sales guy now have a completely different outlook – and it’s really working for them. Pre-qualification is the most essential part of the entire process. You simply can’t get to the right solution quickly in what is a technical, complicated business.
Nurturing sales talent and providing them with coaching/mentoring and career development plans is key with company culture and DNA being fundamental to progression. Identifying great people that possess the right attitude and attributes for me also outweighs industry experience a lot of the time. If you have the patience to train and development someone with the core skills to understand our industry, the loyalty they repay you with can be beneficial.
I’m not sure that youngsters see selling as a career. I think they see it as having about the same kudos as becoming a waiter and that anyone with a product catalogue and a thick skin can become an instant success. The tendency of course is that many underachieve and get overpaid for their efforts before they move to their next job. Putting effort and money into training and developing sales people for them to then take their newly developed skills to a possible competitor can be disheartening. Perhaps we should have ‘Sales Apprentices’!
I think one of the challenges manufacturers face when recruiting sales people into this business is demonstrating that it is a career, not a job. Young sales people are attracted to the scene, the entertaining, the potential high wages, but rarely have had the opportunity previously to actually learn the nuts and bolts of sales. This then leads to young starters being employed as ‘runners’. Unfortunately this inevitably leads to lack of job satisfaction and the start of the jumping from company to company that has become part of this industry.
Firstly the distinct lack of training new young individuals to make a success out of becoming a sales professional. The major requirements are the ability to work effectively, be positive, be tenacious, be presentable, be professional, be fully educated and knowledgeable on the product. If an individual puts these in place they will succeed. The ‘talent’ is confidence and consistency. Secondly, I believe sales people should be paid on results and able to earn well above average amounts if they succeed.
Sales professionals are few and far between because as an industry we have not invested in training. There are too many old school sales people who trade upon a history without passion for design and quality. The fundamentals of sales have changed, technology allows customers to easily gather information that sales teams historically provided. We need driven, supportive client relationship mangers who have a passion for and value quality furniture.