People form the core of any successful function or an organisation – there is absolutely no debate around that. It is also well known that sales as a function is highly dependent on the manpower to drive selling methodologies. Well-defined and impeccably executed HR practices have the ability to impact sales enablement process in the most positive manner.
According to the 2015 Hire Right Benchmark Report, employee recruitment and retention are top business challenges. Truth is that sales function has also evolved over the past few years and today sales force needs to have specialised skills and transformational selling techniques to cater to new-age customers. The need for HR to be aligned with the business vision and requirement is therefore larger than ever.
Recruitment/ Talent Acquisition
It is well known that the top sales talent wins the game and any gaps in recruiting the best-suited sales representative impacts the sales strategy negatively. Talent acquisition plays a key role in bridging the gap between business requirement and talent attributes. Most hiring activities fail due to lack of business requirement understanding of the job profile. Therefore, it is important to be aligned to business plans and put together an effective talent pool to reduce delayed hiring, and avoid revenue leakage. Building a great network of talent finders such as consultants, portals etc. can help in reducing the talent identification process. Recruitment also needs to play a key role in defining effective job descriptions to identify the right people for the right job.
Discovering competent methods for recruiting the right sales resource is critical for delivering consistent results and maintaining sales force effectiveness. Having an ideal candidate profile and knowing the kind of person to look for is not enough. The HR strategy must employ several approaches while augmenting their sales force. An important factor to keep in mind is to have a steady stream of professionals to consider, instead of suddenly kick-starting recruitment efforts when the need arises. In addition to this, the key factors to keep in mind while designing a recruitment plan should include mapping the job profile to required capabilities, adopting scientific approaches while filtering profiles such as – desired IQ level, psychometric tests, validated job experience and job-profile match, incorporating a professionally certified interview panel to preserve impartiality in the selection criteria and carrying out a systematic background and reference check. Eventually, it is about putting together an effective, scientific talent identification process to increase talent hire hit rate by min 30%-50%.
Organizations/ projects with a higher employee retention rate have larger chance of succeeding in their sales objectives. Retaining a positive and motivated staff is vital to the success of a sales program. Employee training, development and overall nurturing strategies therefore become critical to ensure a healthy work environment with everyone aligned to one common business goal/ vision. The people development team therefore needs to be aligned with business to understand the competency requirement, and plan on how to build the same in line with the roadmap. The focus needs to be on creating primary competency within the company to build a consistently refreshed talent pool.
Developing a training strategy that is aligned both with the organization’s go-to-market strategy and with the vision for the desired customer experience therefore is important to create budding sales leaders. It is also important to build leadership development plans from the current set of performers in order to drive organic growth and foster an environment of motivation and enthusiasm. Higher retention can be effectively driven by building employee friendly workplace, with policies, processes and opportunities that benefit the employees.
Organizations face major challenges while hiring and engaging the sales workforce. It can be due to differing attitudes about work, growing population of traditional salesforce and young workforce at the horizon. The new-age sales force also needs to be smart enough to be able to adapt to the fast changing business environment and should be ahead of the curve. As the business gamut evolves and transforms, organisations need to focus on sales talent that is technologically well-versed, one who understands the new ways of building customer touch points and who has the ability to hit the right chord with the customers. Those who are behind in the race need relevant training to bring them ahead of the curve. While hiring sales force, organisations need to ensure competency mapping and cultural fitment as two critical aspects. Engagement can be made rich and meaningful by rewards & recognition, consistent communication, providing a cohesive atmosphere where employees are nurtured and contributions are valued.
HR strategies ensure that we have the right person for the right job at the right time – any of these not falling in line will have an impact on the final outcome. They can be huge contributors in driving effective sales enablement methodologies by ensuring that the sales cycle is not broken. Eventually, it is about nurturing a healthy environment and providing an ecosystem to create sales leaders of tomorrow.