Look for Sales Personnel who Engage with Hesitance but Plan Methodically

Innovative technology businesses marketing software to enterprise organizations will do well to hire sales personnel with specific personality traits that have been shown to be conducive to selling complex solutions. Earlier in this blog we spent sometime discussing one of these personality traits — an ability to facilitate information gathering through conversations with contacts. Here we’d like to expand on this personality profile with two other character traits:

  • an ability to research and plan activities thoroughly prior to engaging with prospects
  • an aversion for reactive engagement with prospects

Selling Complex Solutions Requires Preliminary Research and Planning

Candidates with extensive educational experience in academic research make good candidates for complex sales jobs. These people understand how to utilize resources like the Internet to locate information about specific sales prospects. As well, these people have experience planning complex presentations — written and oral — that will likely be required throughout an engagement with a prospect. Finally, well educated candidates are generally comfortable with all types of communication and, therefore, can be counted upon to further promising conversations with contacts. We recommend keeping a lookout for candidates with an academic background in the Humanities who also present a strong understanding of computer science.

We worked with one client in the early 1990s who successfully recruited highly valuable personnel from MIT who, interestingly enough, spent most of their academic careers working with theater. These personnel were perfect for our client’s products which, back then, including Remedy’s Action Request System, Autosys, and, later, CheckPoint FireWall 1.

A Tendency to Engage Slowly with Contacts is Preferred

While reactive personality types are highly useful in entrepeneurial environments where decisions have to be made “on the fly,” they are not very useful for selling complex solutions. Of course, stumbling upon a rare person who can combine quick problem solving with a methodical, calculated approach to engaging with prospects should not be passed up. However, in our experience such a combination is very much a “blue rhino” type of find and far from the norm. We think businesses will do better to sacrifice quick problem solving for a tendency to slowly and carefully enter into interpersonal engagement. Complex selling is definitely the type of activity where it is far better to be the last to the party than the first.

If you are staffing your business with sales personnel and require a strong ability with complex sales, we’d like to hear from you. Please telephone Ira Michael “Mike” Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved


Diagnostic Sales People are a Rare Breed Strong on Listening Analyzing and Facilitating

If our sales staff is to play the role of diagnostician with our prospects, then we need a team of individuals strong on listening and analyzing and short on oratory and, perhaps, group presentation skills. Further, these individuals should exhibit lots of patience and careful attention to detail. Finally, much like a psychologist, or a therapist who is adept at putting patients at ease, these individuals need to expertly facilitate conversation and information exchange with prospects.

It should be clear, then, that the personality type for sales diagnosticians is far removed from the alpha male or female who takes over a room and bullies a prospect over a finish line to a sale. Of course, both types of sales people — diagnostic and hard sell — share a proclivity for making money, but the way each one goes about getting to the goal is, in fact, radically different.

We like to refer to true diagnostic sales personnel as individuals who have a skill for “playing chess with people.” The worst example of this type of personality will be less than forthcoming, prone to lying. Further, the low end of the employable spectrum for these personalities will exhibit an ability to manipulate others in a self serving manner. On the other hand, the high end of the spectrum on this personality type can produce extraordinary results when armed with well thought out products and prospects that fit a buyer’s profile. In fact, the high end of this spectrum can be trusted to finish the qualification job if the lead development team has not done its job completely.

To an extent this personality type is introverted. Introversion works to be benefit of a facilitation process as this personality type will certainly be responsive to the need to allow prospects the stage to share as much information as they see fit on specific topics.

Nevertheless, when selecting hires, it is recommended to look for a hint of extroversion and leadership. After all, once the diagnostic has been completed, the sales person will have to modulate into a different role, one where he or she can truly lead the prospect forward towards an inevitable decision that should be completely crafted around the product at hand and no other. The best examples of this personality type will have the composure to exercise these skills with care and subtlety.

We have ample experience identifying and recruiting team members for clients based upon targeted types of personality. If you are looking to hire diagnostic sales staff for a complex product, then we would be most interested in speaking with you. Please contact Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved


Prepare for a Long Haul for Enterprise Sales if You Plan on Attracting Sales Talent

Plan on at least a year and a half full time operation with zero sales if your target market is enterprise (Fortune 1000) business and you are just starting up your innovative technology product or service company. Zero sales does not mean that you proceed on your journey without sales people. On the contary, it is imperative that you have top sales talent (as well as marketing talent) on your management team if you are to give your start up its best shot. Consider how much has to be accomplished in preparation for sales revenue. For example, you will have test the sales potential for planned products to ensure that your revenue forecasts are sensible and attainable. Sales testing includes

  • Obtaining permission from influential prospects to participate in product planning along with you
  • Building a reliable sales model that includes a realistic estimate of the length of the sales cycle and, of most importance, a portrait of a best customer that will provide the bases for the qualifiers that your sales team will use to rank sales leads and determine where best to spend their time
  • Gathering sales level intelligence (as opposed to market level intelligence) about your competitors, their customers and the public reputation for their products
  • Building an initial sales funnel of qualified leads that will produce sales

As well, your sales talent will participate along with marketing and finance in the development of your business plan.

So how to compensate sales during this period of zero sales? The old adage, “you get what you pay for” holds true. Pay nothing and, more often than not, get nothing. A realistic business plan must include compensation for sales talent. Offering equity participation works, but only for sales personnel with the financial resources to weather your first year and a half period of zero sales. You might be fine restricting your recruiting to only sales people with the resources to go the distance, in exchange for an equity stake in your business and, then again, you may not.

I recommend planning on a sales staff budget of $75K – $95K for year one of your business. Of course any equity participation that you are willing to grant will sweeten the deal, so don’t neglect to include any equity that you can in your offer. Committing to a realistic sales staff budget will afford you the opportunity of hiring a sales manager (potentially a VP of sales) as a full time employee.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2011 All Rights Reserved