Was it the chicken, or the egg? Much like two kids might go round and round over the answer to this question, so might your sales manager and operations manager endlessly debate which function is more critical to the organization. It seems like every wholesale distributor we visit faces this same reality: sales thinks they’re most important because they bring in the cash; and, operations thinks the salespeople are just a tad full of themselves. We say: just take the egg, scramble it, and serve it up for a companywide breakfast!
It’s no secret that the health of both functions are deeply tied to success, and that they must harmoniously compliment one another in order to maximize profit. We have a big heart for operations, because our Eclipse consultants are most often called in to facilitate change in this area (with an emphasis on Epicor Eclipse software). However, we’ve been pushing clients to pay special attention to sales … because people ARE buying, they’re just picking who they want to buy from. It may be the nature of sales to have fewer boundaries and organization, but we’ve seen that applying operational structure can significantly improve your chances of being the one buyers pick. Not to mention that it also has an interesting trickle down impact on your operational well-being.
So, scramble it up! Take some basic operational structure and principles, mix them into your selling approach, and in no time you can fry up a more appetizing, protein-rich, top line. To do this, we have three strategic recommendations; and, the first has to do with a logical beginning point: hiring salespeople to be the best Eclipse consultants.
Strategic Opportunity #1: Hire for Motivation, Not Accreditation
Selling in a wholesale distribution environment is a unique beast. It requires that positions be filled with the right candidates possessing the right mindset. Notice we said mindset rather than skill set. That’s because motivation should be ranked above experience in practically every sales hiring decision. After all, you can teach industry jargon, Eclipse software product knowledge, and job site conduct. You can build relationships. Motivation comes from a deeper place and it can be the most difficult to change.
Unfortunately, we see a lot of our customers in wholesale distribution fall short because of unmotivated, yet highly “connected” salespeople. Just because someone’s “been around forever” doesn’t mean they are garnering the most sales for your company. In fact, a high level of comfort might simply be equal to complacency.
MCA Associates stated this well in their web article “How to Screen Out Salesperson Duds and Hire Superstars”. They said, “It’s better to hire a lesser skilled person who is highly motivated than a person who is skilled and not motivated enough to APPLY their skills on a steady and consistent basis.”
I’ve seen this in my own business, too. I’ve put people in sales positions that were great on paper, fully equipped with deep relationships and high accolades. But, after trials and tribulations, learned they weren’t the right fit. I’ve found that my very best closers are those who knew absolutely nothing coming in, but were interested, engaged, and motivated. They were also they ones who seemed most grateful for the opportunity. They weren’t necessarily desperate, they just had a position of humility, and a tradition of loyalty, that were intrinsic to their personality.
Was there more hand holding than normal? Yes. Was there more of a learning curve than usual? Yes. But, those efforts provided great opportunities to teach what I felt was most important about the business, along with my own best practices and methods for selling. There were no bad habits to break. They’re just fresh and hungry. Often these make for the best Eclipse consultants.
So, how do you achieve this? By removing some of the guesswork and subjectivity from the hiring decision. Rely on measurement and planning:
We have two more opportunities for you to sell more by scrambling operations with sales; but, we’ll let you have some time to work on hiring and training the right team first. Stay tuned for parts two and three of our Scrambled series to find out more.
Tony King is the owner of Zerion Group whose roles include sales, consulting and management of a team of 12 consultants who work directly with customers to help them achieve their business goals.