"Sales is about being able to influence people. It's about having that commercial acumen, about understanding the mind of someone else and helping to persuade them that what you're selling is the right option for them."
– Sandy Hall, Leading Edge.
In New Zealand, sales isn't necessarily seen as a career. It's not taught in universities or schools, and true sales skills have to be developed through experience instead. This is why good sales people are pretty hard to come by.
Yet, it's no secret that the sales department is essential to any business' success. That's why we caught up with Sandy Hall, Group People enablement Manager at Leading Edge, to find out the best way to recruit great sales talent.
Sales in New Zealand
Globally, perceptions of sales are beginning to shift, explains Sandy. "New Zealand is a slow adapter in that sense, but perceptions are slowly improving. Some universities are even beginning to develop courses in sales," says Sandy.
"However it's still difficult to recruit great sales talent, and most of the skills required have to be taught on the job."
Hunters vs Farmers
For Sandy, there are two types of sales people: hunters and farmers. Hunters love acquisitions, they are able to get results from cold calls and have a high level of commercial acumen. This means they'll be able to challenge a potential client to buy a solution that will help them grow their businesses, even if the product is a bit larger than the client originally had in mind.
Career development and the opportunity to earn good money are the two main factors sales people look for.
On the other side of the coin are farmers or account managers. These look after an existing portfolio of customers, and take on new clients that the hunters have won. True hunters are incredibly hard to find, and often even the best farmers can't necessarily make it as hunters.
How to attract the best hunters
Good hunters are, for Sandy, the creme de la creme, and businesses need to work hard to attract them. There are two key factors that hunters look for in a job – career development and the opportunity to earn good money.
"Both factors are linked," explains Sandy. "Sales people want the opportunity to grow and develop, and as they do this there should be chances for them to move up the job ladder, otherwise that learning just isn't going anywhere."
The Leading Edge approach to attracting sales talent
If there's anyone who knows how to attract the best sales talent, it's Leading Edge. We deliver sales support to a wide range of businesses, from telecommunications company Spark to business buying group n3.
Our approach is one that takes this need for learning and development into account.
"We want people to grow and develop on the job."
"Here at Leading Edge, we believe sales is a skill like any other – it's not something you have to be born with, but is something that can be learned and developed," says Sandy. "That's why we put a lot of emphasis on mentoring and development."
This involves having a highly structured day. There's a morning meeting in which targets are discussed, and we'll regularly check in with people to make sure they're performing to the best of their abilities.
"We want people to grow and develop on the job," says Sandy. "We then focus on internal promotions so that they can feel like they're progressing, and it's this combination of career growth and learning opportunities that enables us to retain the best sales talent."
Are you finding it difficult to attract great sales talent? Is this slowing your business' growth as a result? Get in touch with the team today to find out how Leading Edge can help.