Investing in a professional services marketing and sales person is a big step for many firms and often one of the first new roles added in a strategy to grow a professional services practice.
So how can you tell if the person you are about to hire is the right one for your firm?
The answer lies in the following equation used by OB scholars to illustrate the relationship between individual performance, motivational profile and the environment.
Performance = (Motivation * Ability)*(the degree to which they are aligned with requirements of the environment)
Although we would never try and plug real numbers into this equation it nicely illustrates how a positive alignment of Motivation to sell and Ability to sell within the unique sales requirements of the environment would result in positive performance.
Conversely if Motivation and Ability are not aligned with the requirements of the environment then it is also obvious that a negative performance would result. And if one variable is aligned and the other is not then a positive performance level will be unlikely as well.
There are three lessons in this observation that every professional services marketing leader should understand before hiring a salesperson.
Assessing an individual’s technical skills, sales and marketing skills, and the organizational tools and tactics available to the individual that are part of their ability to sell is a fairly easy endeavour through direct observation, a review of past projects or an interview. Most firms have a good handle on this.
However assessing the motivational profile of an individual is significantly more difficult as direct observation – even over unreasonably long periods of time – is usually not an option and past projects and interviews yield limited results as well. References may be helpful but meaningful discussions with previous employers and reference providers are increasingly difficult to obtain these days for fear of litigation (among other reasons).
So how do you assess the motivation of an individual to sell? And more importantly to sell in the way that makes the most sense for your professional services practice? To do that, I look to third party assessment tools for assistance. One that I have used in the past is the OXICON system. Note that this is not a wholesale endorsement of OXICON – just me telling you what I like to use.
Many years ago the folks at OXICON developed an assessment tool designed to audit the willingness of an individual to undertake the types of behaviours necessary for B2B sales success in a variety of sales environments – in effect to provide a tangible assessment of their intangible motivational profile.
It attempts to answer the question “what behaviours is an individual likely or not likely to do?” arguable an important thing to understand when hiring.
To further assist in our search for a professional services firm sales person OXICON also provides some insight into the sales environment. It has identified four unique sales environments based on two variables – the complexity of the sale and the degree to which a relationship between buyer and seller is required to make a sale.
The sales environment usually most relevant to professional services marketing is labeled by OXICON as the Advisor sales environment.
In this environment sales behaviours require a high degree of relationship building and the degree of complexity of the sale is high as well. This obviously makes sense because a consulting sale is typically a custom proposal based on a significant degree of discovery by the seller to define the sales as opposed to the simple selection from a limited number of pre-determined options.
If you’re hiring a professional services marketing or sales person you probably know what abilities they need to have for success, and you probably have a good understanding of the value of relationship building and trust.
Of equal importance is knowing how to assess a candidates motivational profile and it’s alignment within your professional services sales environment.
Fair Disclosure Statement: Cal Harrison and Beyond Referrals have no interest in OXICON and do not receive any form of compensation for this article or any other discussions of their services. For more information visit OXICON.com.
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"This should be required reading for consultants AND their clients - especially the part about RFPs." - Blair Enns, Win Without Pitching