You might be thinking, it’s not HR’s job to help Sales teams make more money; and of course it isn’t directly. But HR being able to demonstrate value to the organisation is critical and without Sales bringing in revenue, where would your business be?
So, what a great part of the business to start with!
It’s common for over stretched HR teams to get bogged down in firefighting, heavy operational work and struggle to be taken seriously as a strategic change maker within a business.
But HR teams can and should have a huge impact and be able to demonstrate this with a direct correlation between their actions and business performance. Easier said than done, but with sales having a distinct ££ number, there are advantages to working closely with them.
In this article we’ll share how strategic actions of HR when partnering with sales teams, can have a quantifiable business impact and further demonstrate why it’s critical HR take up a C-Suite seat.
Step 1: Connect, connect, connect
Building a relationship with your Sales leaders is invaluable; it helps you find out about the external market you’re operating in, customer profiles and equally as important, how your Sales leaders tick.
Investing time here will deepen your connection, help you understand their world and enable you to devise people strategies and solutions bespoke to their needs and their measured objectives.
Sales leaders understand the “win/win” mentality and if your efforts help them with theirs, you will create valuable allies when it comes to initiative roll-outs and both parties can claim the glory!
“We have enough donkeys, find me a Unicorn!”
It’s a tough recruitment market out there and recruiting great salespeople is one of the biggest challenges faced for sales leaders growing their business.
Where can you add measured value? Being realistic and pragmatic in sales recruitment.
Speed & Quality: time without a salesperson in a role saves costs of salary etc; but has an impact on lost sales. Measure the average sales value of a salesperson and use this as a key metric.
Having laid the groundwork building your relationships, you’ll have clear insight into the sales strategy to make sure you’re designing attraction strategies that deliver their longer-term goals.
For example, if the market is demanding a greater demonstration of sustainability credentials for your products, you’re going to want to recruit people who can sell value and understand how to articulate that to your customers.
So, whilst technical know-how might (or might not) be important, it’s crucial that you identify the right behaviours that will deliver results. Being upfront about what you’re paying, what you can offer when it comes to development and making the interview processes as slick as possible will help you provide a candidate centric recruitment experience, stand out from the crowd and fill those vacancies with quality.
Rewarding the right things
Sales bonus and commission schemes can often be a contentious topic, but when designed well, will result in a win/win for employees and for the business. Bonus strategies must respond to and deliver strategic priorities AND reward the right kind of behaviours.
You’ll never be able to make everyone happy with commission and bonus schemes, so it’s important you’re able to demonstrate a clear rationale backed up by data as to the “why”. Stretch test it before roll-out and check through using “what if” scenarios to avoid future conflict or challenge.
Finally, measure the performance before and after using sales revenue/profit data, employee survey data and costs of the scheme to get that ROI.
Speed to Maturity
We talk about the “speed to maturity” for sales-people being “how long will it take for this salespersons performance plateau”. Thinking another way, if the average salesperson in an organisation sells £50,000 per month, then how long will it be from day 1 in the role, to that point of £50k?
Why is this important? Because the sooner salespeople get to that point, the more revenue they are producing each and every month.
Let’s say current average speed to maturity of £50k per month = 9 months. What if you could improve that to 8 months? Then the difference in total sales through that period is significant and if you’re recruiting in bulk then the numbers get really exciting!
Lots to make this happen: slick recruitment and onboarding experience, sales management engagement, training/coaching/mentoring steps, smart goals and objectives to name a few.
Good people will demand great Sales leaders, so investing in their people skills is just as important. Recognition and celebration with equally robust processes that support and address low performance will result in clear expectations and strong team cultures.
This sales to maturity gives you a brilliant metric in and of itself, and then a follow up challenge/opportunity. You’ll have more employees motivated and skilled who want more so how you then continue to move their development through the business is next!
To conclude, without sales, where would any company be?
It can be easy to forget these critical stakeholders when bogged down in reactive people work, but investing time with your Sales leaders gives you invaluable insight into the market your company is operating in and an opportunity to leverage success.
This helps you design tailored strategies and initiatives that respond to the recruitment, reward and development needs of these teams, providing the best experience for this client group. And we know that engaged teams outperform disengaged businesses everytime.
Ultimately, HR has a critical role to play in the financial and human sustainability of the organisation, but sometimes it’s on the HR leaders to find those gaps to then demonstrate where they can add real value.