In my last blog article on specification sales I asked if we really need the salesman. In order to ensure balance, I’m presenting the benefits of a strong sales team in this article.

I recently delivered some training for a company who could boast of a stable sales team with masses of experience. In fact we worked out that the 30 people on the course had over 800 years of industry experience between them. This is a company who believe in investing in their people and recognise the benefits of a stable and established team. And they get a return from this investment in business won. In fact, we identified this extensive experience as one of their USPs.

This is quite a contrast to another company I have been talking to. This is a business acquired by venture capitalists a bit over a year ago. Here the new owners have looked at the ‘traditional’ sales team and decided that they all need to be changed. While this group may not be the most dynamic, they have masses of experience and enthusiasm. More important, they have been delivering strong sales in difficult market conditions. Hopefully the team can be retained and I’m sure that some sales training can help to lift their performance yet further.

In recessionary times it is very easy for companies to shed people that don’t fit. I agree that sometimes it is the only option. But people buy from people and in the construction industry what clients and customers want is to talk to problem solvers – someone with technical competence and experience who adopts a ‘soft selling’ approach. Far better to keep people with high levels of expertise and work at making them better through training and support systems such as CRM and social media, than to bring in new people who may be good as salesmen but will take years to acquire the technical skills and expertise of your business.

Our people make companies what they are. Yes the culture of an organisation may need to be changed, and in some cases it is very difficult to break with established practices (take the public sector as an example). But when companies engage with their people they generally see performance, in all aspects of the business, change for the better. And now is a key time for you to be investing in your people, because as the market recovers people like my venture capitalist will be trying to recruit the best of your staff. So, make sure your people are fully supported by feeding them sales leads which have been properly qualified, give then the right sales tools and the training to be effective.

Chris will be running a series of open training courses in the Spring, including Effective Specification Selling.

what are your thoughts on this subject? What do you feel are the challenges in developing an effective specification sales team?

Chris Ashworth

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