How to Ace the Project Your Sales Team Isn't Qualified To Do
Recently a client of mine ran into a problem. They had a large project they decided was critical to complete this year. Unfortunately, no one on their sales team was qualified to do the work; a territory design project. Not only this, but this territory design will need to be updated year after year. All of a sudden, they had a problem that they couldn’t fix, and they were looking at paying to fill that gap for years on end.
Most often VPs of Sales view this situation as a major hurdle – a problematic hole in their organization. They dread the conversation with the CEO where they have to tell him that the team can’t do the job. This also means that more money will be spent, as a consultant will most likely be hired to fill this hole for them.
But maybe this hole isn’t a hole at all. Maybe it’s an opportunity.
Find Money and Time to Build Internal Capabilities
Every project takes time and money. Projects that you don’t have in-house capability to complete take more of both. Unless you approach this project the right way, you could likely run short on both.
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Reallocate your funds from other areas to find the budget you need. For example, use the money that was allocated for employee training or continuing education to bring on a sales consultant that will complete the job alongside your sales team. This will make the most of both your team’s time and money – all the while building your own team’s capabilities. Your team becomes more valuable and you can fill a need simultaneously.
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How to Turn a Liability into an Asset
In a situation where you are faced with a task that no one on your sales team is qualified to do, what are your options?
- Pay to have a consultant perform the service for you. This will take care of your problem today, but what happens tomorrow? How do you make modifications or make changes later that might be needed? Plus, the next time this problem arises you’ll be forced to pay for the service again. Do you really want to have this exact same conversation with the CEO next year?
- Take care of the problem on your own. This will be the cheapest option, but you take a major risk by having an inexperienced first-timer fumble through the project. How will you know it’s done right? If it’s done incorrectly, what ripple effect might it have? Are you going to risk making the number in 2013 on such an important piece of work?
- Do the project alongside a consultant. This strategy will allow the project to be completed by an expert this year. It will also provide a member of your team the opportunity to learn from that expert. (Research shows that one of the most important aspects to employee satisfaction is being invested in by the organization.) The next time this project arises, you will have an expert in-house who can complete the job.
I strongly advocate for option 3.
Teach Your Team to Fish
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Great leaders don’t simply lead a team. Great leaders develop a team so that they are more valuable in Year 2 than they were in Year 1. That’s exactly what option 3 listed above will do.
- Designate a member of your team to work alongside the consultant.
- This team member will learn from him, and ultimately become an expert.
- You’ve now successfully invested in your team’s talent. You’ve allowed someone to add to their skill set, and not only better themselves, but better your organization at the same time.
- Next time this project arises, you’ll have someone in house with all the capabilities of that consulting firm.
(If you’ve decided Option 3 is best for your organization, make sure you Select the Right Consulting Firm.)
This is a continuing education investment – don’t be shy about reallocating some of those training dollars to this project. You’ll take care of your problem in the short term, and improve the capability of your team for the long term. Seize the opportunity to invest in individuals, and gain new internal capabilities.
Have questions about effective budgeting, or proper employee training? Or do you have a project that you can’t complete with your current staff? Leave a comment or call me today to get on the right track.
Author: Tony Albachiara
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