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Thought question: what is actually and truly the job of a sales guy? I will give you 5-10 seconds to think about it.

What did you come up with? Let’s go through this.

Some common answers we hear on this question are …

  • “To sell!” (logical)
  • “To build the right relationships!”
  • “To advance conversations!”
  • “To define the value prop!”
  • “To articulate product-market fit!”
  • “To reach the decision-maker!”
  • “To shorten the cycle!”

Hmm. OK.

Which of these are right?

It’s easier to start with the ones that are wrong.

A salesperson’s job does NOT involve:

  • Create Product-market fit
  • Identify Ideal Customer Profile
  • Create Value per market segment and per Personas

However, many organizations heap all that, or at least part of that, into the job description of a salesperson. This causes a lot of problems, notably churn in your sales ranks. When everything is on the plate of sales and there is also revenue pressure, two things typically happen:

  • You will come to see every second salesperson (1 in 2, or 50%) as “bad.”
  • There will be a lot of churn

OK, so what is a salesperson’s job?

In short, it’s these two things:

  • Find the right companies and buyers in the market segment and and credibly articulate the offer/value
  • Build rapport with buyers and consult/advise them on what to do next

And here’s the assumption problem

When you assume a salesperson needs to do everything on the first list, it’s too much.

Assume = Make a “ASS” out of “U” and “ME.”

But even when you know what a salesperson should do — the two bullets just above — you can still make the wrong assumptions.

Many companies just expect that a salesperson will “get it” and automatically pick the right market segment and talk to the right people the right values. Unfortunately, that works roughly 50% of the time. It’s by no means guaranteed. Many salespeople, either for lack of skill or lack of internal resources, spend close to a year talking to the wrong segment and the wrong buyers and try to sell them the wrong value. It’s honestly about 1 in 2 that end up doing this.

So 50% of your sales principals might be “bad.” (hint: they are often not) Every second salesman might be fired after a year or so. That is expensive, right? And in the process, you could be losing market share, go-to-market time, and everything else you need to stay truly competitive. And that’s is even more expensive!

Who should be doing what, then?

The best breakdown is something like this:

  • Ideal Customer Profile, Personas, Value Prop: Your board + external partner
  • Marketing Collateral and Stories: Marketing team or outsourced partner
  • Product-Market Fit: Board + external partner
  • Relationship-building: Board + own salespeople
  • Company research: Business Development Reps + Salespeople (or external partner)
  • Individual decision-maker research: Salespeople (with help from external partner)

Here’s what we offer

A 1-2-3 plan to start your lead generation and B2B sales pipeline humming in DACH. We are the “external partner” mentioned above, then.

Ted Bauer
About the author

I help companies to market their content in the most effective way.