Keys to Sales Success in the Natural Resources Sector
Where do companies turn when looking for a salesperson in the natural resources industry? There’s a standardized playbook; if it’s not broke, why fix it? On the other hand, if an employee’s market is making the search more difficult, it might be time to reassess. Do you think you know where to find a good salesperson? Perhaps it’s time to think again!
Looking for a Natural Resources Salesperson in an Employee’s Market
The first and most obvious place to look for a new sales person is within the ranks of a competitor’s sales team. It’s simple enough; you find a guy or gal who’s currently doing a great job of selling something similar, give them a small raise, a new shirt, a company email address, and tell them to come in on Monday morning. It’s a great plan … when it works.
In an employee’s market such as the current one, however, a small raise might not cut it.
In fact, hiring a ready-made salesperson with experience directly relatable to your offering might be downright impossible.
If this sounds familiar, don’t despair! There might be an individual currently working in marketing or productions for your company, or a competitor’s, with a great grasp of the category and an as yet unrealized capacity for sales. Or perhaps there’s a salesperson in an unrelated industry who’s willing and able to learn the finer points of your marketplace and bring their skills to your team. In either case, there will be some development involved but many successful hires have come from situations just like these.
What Skills are Needed for Sales?
How can a company tell if a person from another role would make a good salesperson? Much is made about the notion of the ‘natural salesperson’ and, indeed, some personality types are better suited to the position than others. What’s important to remember, though, is that attitude, knowledge, and circumstance are important factors as well, so keep an open mind.
An industry veteran from a different department may possess a wide array of knowledge, and a deep understanding of the product. In a technical industry such as natural resources, it’s important to understand the clients’ challenges and be in tune with their decision making processes. Clients will automatically assign a higher level of trust to a salesperson who can relate to the finer points of their job. Perhaps this salesperson has even been a buyer in the past? Bonus points for reliable, assessable and detail-oriented salespeople who can establish a reputation as a credible problem-solver.
A good candidate for sales will be someone who’s able to forge relationships, a hard worker, and a strong communicator. They’re a team player who understands both the technology they’re selling, as well as the technology they’ll be using to sell it.
Developing Sales People
Much of the above comes down to personality type, industry experience, and work ethic. Despite this, training is an important factor.
Experienced sales people from other companies or industries will need to learn the details of your company’s offering. This will be more easily accomplished if that information is organized and available. If possible, a formal training program is optimal.
On the flip side of the coin, individuals with a great understanding of the product, but minimal experience in sales will need to be shown the ropes. While there are books, tutorials, and training courses that teach the finer points of salesmanship, nothing beats experience. Mentorship relationships, when possible, are optimal.
Assessing Your Needs
Deciding what your salesperson must bring to the table depends in large part on the specifics of your situation. Will the sales person be responsible for large corporate accounts, covering a large geographical area? Are you a market leader maintaining strong relationships, or an upstart trying to gain market share? It’s important to select a candidate that’s comfortable with the scope of the task at hand.
Highly technical product and service offerings will obviously require a higher degree of technical knowledge. A strong and dedicated support team may lessen the pressure on the sales person, but will require them to be an organized team player.
Companies with more complex CRM systems will want to consider technical aptitude when making a selection. Those seeking a salesperson who speaks publicly or maintains an online presence will look for someone who is comfortable and willing to take on those responsibilities.
Finally, the size of the sales team and the urgency of the task at hand will help determine how much time can be afforded to the learning curve. Simply put, is your company in a position to develop a sales person, as opposed to poaching one?
Sales is one of the most important functions within a company and, as such, making a good hire is pivotal. Having said this, companies that have a closed mind should beware of missing out on good candidates. In a tough market, it’s important to think outside the box.