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Recruitment | 4 Min Read

Selling has Changed. Have you changed your Talent Strategy?

We all sell but do we sell the same product, the same way? The answer is no. Hence to build a winning sales team, it is critical you deepen your knowledge, redefine your sales. It is now about who, what and how to sell.

Automation and sales


Ask yourself “Are we developing sales personnel for success?”, “Are we targeting the competencies of a 21st-century business landscape?”

If your answer is in the affirmative, take a seat back and treat yourself with some luxury and if not, then I marvel at your survival instincts which might soon die.

Sales weren’t always this complex. Though the very essence of sales stays intact, the context of selling has changed with the advent of technology, globalization and digitalization. As businesses grow and aim at a better future with more digits in their deals, leaders need to align their organizational vision with the selling skills required to survive the business dynamics.

Sales training and sales effectiveness have been one of the pillars of organizational strategies to increase revenues since time immemorial. However, it’s not only a matter of skills that salespeople need to develop but also of customer interaction strategies which they need to master.

The sales profession is undergoing some radical changes. So much so, that some people predict that 15 million sales jobs will disappear in the coming future. Hence, to survive this era of fundamental transformation business leaders and talent acquisition managers need to build a better sales team.

“Salespeople aren’t just the ones who build your bottom-line, they are your front-line troops; the most important point of contact with your customers. With these caveats in mind, it is crucial to invest in building your winning sales team.”

The dynamics of sales

Automation has made its entry and is slowing evading the world of sales. Earlier sales used to be dependent on the seller, whatever he/she sells, how he/she sells made or marred the deal. But now the tables have turned and let us see how.

  • Consumer behaviour- A study by IBM over 30,000 consumers found that consumers now are more connected, more vocal and more demanding than ever before. No longer should you expect a naïve, oblivious buyer with zero information buying the deal you are selling. Informed consumers now want people to listen, to understand their needs and empower them.
  • Consumer service- B2B consumers are not one time relations, they are long-term contacts which need to be nurtured. Now with the evolution of the web, the business leader and sales managers need to focus on service orientation. Every physical service we can enlist has a web counterpart today, so sales now demand more personalization and better services.
  • Consumer experience- The Customers 2020 report says, that consumer experience has over-taken price and product as a differentiator of a brand. Now there are no one-way interactions, it has transformed into an interaction between the user and the product. The more you absorb the user, the more successful your product is.

Understanding the consumer behaviour, building a personalised relationship with clients and enriching their experience is critical in today’s crowded tech vendor landscape.

What is the sales landscape?

You will often hear this “Sales is sales”. If you have the zeal, a set of skills and a tad of experience, you are set to make a mark in the retail or corporate markets without any stress. And not to forget how much you believe in the following table and that’s where the sales world stops for you.

Differences Between B2B and B2C

Rethinking Sales

A study by Mettl and SHRM India identified that 57% of the 1600+ sales professionals feel that hiring the right talent is one of the top 3 drivers to improve sales performance across industries.

But before we get started with the hiring of our desired salesperson, it is mandatory to understand what product or service is your sales force selling, to whom they are selling. Question yourself- are they selling it over the counter or telephone, is sales happening in bulk or small quantities and once you start questioning the reason for sales and thinking deeper, you are set to demystify the complex sales hiring.

Sales Recruitment Strategy

The foundation of sales lies in the answers to 3 basic questions-

Who to sell?

To whom the salespeople sell make a world of difference. The nature of the product, the market dynamics are factors influencing the overall interaction between the buyer and seller. Now the consumers can be divided into 3 types, I am sure you might have an idea of the categories, but let us recapitulate-

Sales Strategy - Who?

  • Basic- A consumer who has low purchasing power, minimal education and mostly invests in basic products fall into this category. The buyer has a clear need for an offering but low purchasing power.
  • Mid- he/she has neither a low nor a high purchasing power and evaluate every buy based on the value of money. The buyer does not have a clear understanding of the offering and hence, there might be a series of considerations before the final purchase. The salesperson with this customer group is required to repeat the benefits of the product so as to persuade the buyer of buying the good.
  • Premium- They belong to high socio-economic background and less involved in basic/luxury things. The buyer has an understanding of the product but not a clarity about the right one to be purchased. Hence, the seller needs to realise how important consumer experience is.

The type of audience we are catering to is something that each salesperson wants to be aware of and keeps in mind, but that’s where the research ends. Who to sell is one of the questions a salesforce ought to ask but not the only one. So, make sure that your salesforce answers the following two and stands out with the best deals.

What to sell?

This refers to the offering your business aims to sell. It could be a good, service, solution or combination of all. It is very crucial for the salesforce to have an understanding of the characteristics of the offering, whether they are easily understood or whether it will involve low or high sale among customers. The offerings can be divided into 3 parts-

Sales Strategy - what?

  • Simple offering- these types of offerings are easy to understand both by the consumer and the seller. No time needs to be invested in terms of understanding the product since they have zero ambiguity associated with them. Most of the information is already available to the consumer and do not require a salesperson to explain the offering.
  • Moderately complex offering- require some time and energy investment by the consumer, who can research independently on the product or can seek help from the salesperson. The level of ambiguity and risk is a little higher than simple offerings.
  • Complex offerings- they cannot be easily understood by the end user and require the guidance of a salesperson, who may be required to explain it in detail to the user. The salespeople of this offering must be well researched and be sophisticated in their offerings.

Note that some products have the ability to move from being complex to moderate to simple, as they become more common.

How to sell?

It involves the time taken to sell the product, the number of teams and the steps involved to get the customer to buy the offering. Few factors such as typical transaction value, the brand value, whether it is repeat/one time, need to be taken into consideration. The selling process has 3 types-

Sales Strategy - How?

  • Transactional process- the transaction is characterised by few stakeholders or a short period that ends in one interaction. Such a short period doesn’t require any need to follow up with the salesperson. Since there is already a need for the product, hence the salesperson has solutions ready for the problems.
  • Multi-stage process- the transaction has multiple interactions and the people involved are more than that of transactional sale. Owing to the fact that the need of the product is not known, salespeople do not have prepared solutions for the customers.
  • Consultative process- this process requires a detailed explanation. It is a sales process in which the customer does not clearly understand his needs and what would suit him the best. The salesperson plays a significant role in understanding the client’s needs and then advising him of the various solutions as well as helping him choose the best-suited one.Sales Profiler - Sales Strategy

The variable skills

Once the sales management has a clarity about What, How & Who according to their business requirements, it is easier to enlist the competencies they are looking for to build their perfect salesforce.

Since 1970s competencies have been used by business leaders to recruit and manage employees and have become an integral factor in the recruitment framework. This vehicle, when put in place, drives the team into an efficient one. Every sales job requires a set of competencies based on the 3-factor model. I think you will understand it better with certain examples.

  • For instance, a sales distributor of Airtel product when selling to a business will fall under the category of a simple offering that is transactional in nature. The person may not require any particular expertise but doing the necessary paperwork, ensuring delivery and support services. While on the other hand, a sales representative of Oyo rooms will fall into a mid-complex offering that is transactional in nature. Now read carefully into the change of skills and abilities required here. For these services, the person needs to have product knowledge and the ability to compare it with other products and highlight its’ benefits.
  • When we come down to selling a complex product like assessment tests to other companies it falls under consultative selling. For this, product knowledge and advanced communication skills are a must. Active listening and understanding customer needs adds to a better consumer experience who sometimes wishes to tailor the product. And if you don’t have a clear understanding of your own assessments and your parties needs then you may be incapable on advising what’s best for them. Hence, look out for these competencies in your salesforce.
  • PepsiCo caters to a large and varied audience with a plethora of products. Now consider selling Pepsi at a retail outlet like a shop near your house from where you buy your groceries versus selling at a PVR. Now help me answer this, is the treatment you get from each seller the same? Doesn’t the one at the PVR treat you with extra courtesy? Skills, everything comes down to them. Communication skills play an integral part in the PVR sales, when the person behind the counter greets you and helps you with your order don’t you like it? On the contrary the grocery store seller seems to be the busiest on earth, only bothered to end his shift as soon as possible. As the store plans to stay there for long, it aims to build a relationship with its customers hence networkingestablishing trust play crucial roles in sales generation.

Therefore, it is with the interplay of these three factors that you can have your own list of desirable competencies and once you have it all figured out- HIRE.

The fourth revolution has set its mark and rapidly changing the job landscape. The traditional paper-resume-screen-interview-selection method has now been replaced by modern recruitment tools. The use of assessments in each stage of hiring has increased the efficiency of the process. As the world is becoming more global, digital and shifting to online platforms, assessments have reached a new level of growing interest. Use these assessments to find your potential candidates and building your dream sales team.

Your efforts count

Selling works when organizations understand selling. As we organizations focus more on the humans in sales, intuition and best guesses won’t be enough to grow your sales team. Use the tools and make smart decisions for a better future.

Originally published March 14 2018, Updated December 16 2020

Divyeshwari Singh

Written by

About This Topic

Sales hiring is a talent acquisition process through which organizations build winning sales teams. Using standardized sales assessments, situational tests and role-plays can elevate your sales hiring and help you hire the best sales talent.

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