The typical sales journey for an SMB goes something like this: the CEO is the company’s only salesperson for – sometimes – several years. They are then assisted or replaced by a super salesperson. The company’s first salesperson needs to be “super” because they have to have the presence and stature of a CEO.  Then a second salesperson is hired, the beginnings of a sales team. As the pressure for revenue builds, so does the thirst for salespeople, but only “top” salespeople. Every company, big or small wants top salespeople.

Even large firms with full-time talent acquisition people report that sales ranks as one of the most frustrating roles to fill. That’s because there is a global shortage of qualified, professional B2B salespeople. And SMBs are at an added disadvantage when they go out to the talent market.  They have to compete with larger companies that offer better base salaries, better overall packages, a bigger brand and a less risky option as a career move. (And these larger companies still struggle to attract the right sales talent).

The reality is that for the tough sales roles – the evangelising, the hunting, the experimenting and outbound opportunity creation – no more than 15% of the sales population possesses the necessary skills or talent.The marketplace is simply incapable of supplying the required number of quality sales professionals needed by thousands of B2B firms, even for what seems like junior roles. As a result, many SMBs have to go without and settle for a string of unsuccessful sales hires.

The marketplace is simply incapable of supplying the required number of quality sales professionals needed by thousands of B2B firms, even for what seems like junior roles.

The answer lies in investing in professional sales leadership and management

The answer to sales growth challenges lies less in hiring “top” salespeople – enough of whom don’t exist to go around – and more in investing in professional sales management and leadership. This might seem obvious, but the emphasis here is on professional sales management. That contrasts with promoting a high-achieving salesperson to run or build the team or hiring the equivalent of a sales administrator who will take over “tasks” currently done by the CEO. Professional sales leaders introduce high-impact practices that when combined with good quality people, create a powerful sales organisation. The best way to attract good people who can be developed into great salespeople, is to invest in a great sales leader. Gradually, the supply of “top” salespeople will start to increase.  Highly effective sales leaders introduce these high-impact practices:

  • Building a forecast-driven sales culture that sets a relentless opportunity creations and capture pace.
  • A strong 1:1 weekly review routine.
  • Practical, rather than mind-numbing coaching a that delivers performance-improvement in days, not months.
  • Hiring for knowledge, skills – and talent, but the right talents and not the usual, misplaced, natural-born “sales talent”.

Professional sales leadership and practical management is the key to SMB competitiveness in B2B markets.

The best way to attract good people who can be developed into great salespeople, is to invest in a great sales leader. Gradually, the supply of “top” salespeople will start to increase. 

If you want to explore How Great Sales Leaders Make Things Happen, click here. (Limited eBook copies available August 2020).