Once you’ve decided what you want your sales team to accomplish, the next step is to build your team. In order to do this, you need to determine what sales roles need to be filled to meet your objectives.
To my mind, sales roles fall into one of three general categories: Creating, Building and Maintaining:
Creating is about generating business from scratch and/or capturing business where very little exists. This is the hardest job in sales—it requires the creativity of an artist, the passion of an evangelist, and nerves of steel. It’s even harder when your product is new or unknown to customers. And it’s not for the faint of heart because creators typically function on their own, sometimes with very little assistance from their employers.
Building is about account development—taking an existing but underserved customer and growing that business. This role requires a high degree of sales ability coupled with strong project management skills. As you may have already discovered, these skills don’t often coexist in the same person!
Maintaining is just what it sounds like—keeping existing business and market share. This role is all about sustaining customer satisfaction and playing defense in the sense of fending off challengers.
Confusing or ignoring these roles is a common mistake, as is slotting a strong salesperson into the wrong role. I’ve seen previously successful creators struggle in maintainer roles, for example. And putting an experienced maintainer into a creator role nearly always ends in failure.
Additionally, even if you get the right person in the right role, it’s a common mistake to assume that previous success in sales ensures future success, especially when you introduce changes to products, pricing, or customers.
Success in sales is highly situation-specific. While previous success can certainly be a proxy for future success, careful interviewing is vital to ensure the new fit you’re considering is a good one in all important aspects.
Are you a good interviewer? Stay turned for my next installment, when I’ll explain how to ask the right questions to ensure you get the right people in the right roles.