Ep 43: Right Person, Right Sales Channel

BuzzSprout Audio

“The challenge for leaders is that they have a great salesperson but that salesperson is working the wrong sales channels.” – Josh Sweeney


“Some of the sales work is not about the closing, it’s not about just getting the customer in and signing a piece of paper. If it was, hell, everybody would do it.” – Taylor Barnes



Josh Sweeney: Hello, I’m your host, Josh Sweeney. I’m joined by my co-host, Taylor Barnes. Taylor, how are you today?

Taylor Barnes: Josh, I’m doing well. I’m working on my aim today ’cause I got a lot of salespeople that I know are talented but I want to make sure I send them down the proper channel, which is a good topic for today, in my opinion.


Challenge Illustration

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, they definitely got to go down the right channel. I mean, the challenge for leaders is that they have a great salesperson but that salesperson’s working the wrong sales channel. So, what are some of the reasons a person can end up working in the wrong sales channel or just kind of working in the wrong role?

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, this happens a lot. I mean, we’ve talked about this in previous episodes too. You bring on somebody that’s got a great skill set and that skill set might be closing, that skill set might be relationship building, inside, outside, etc., so you got to figure out really what they’re good at. So, I would think one of the main reasons that leaders have this challenge working in the wrong channels because, quite frankly, some sales work is pretty mundane, pretty monotonous. It could be very data driven. It could be very outbound prospecting. So, you got to understand that some of the sales work isn’t just about the closing. It’s not just about getting the customer in and signing a piece of paper. If it was, hell, I think everybody would do it.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely.


Challenge Follow up ( I too have been through this… )

Taylor Barnes: The facts are is that some of it’s monotonous.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, it definitely can be monotonous. I mean, like you said, a lot of these salespeople want to get on the phone, they want to close deals, they want to work on these deals, but the information and all the work leading up to it, you know, making sure your deals are up to date, sending prospecting e-mails, you know, other things like that can just be kind of a drain on them. So, sometimes, you have to split that out into other roles.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah. And how many times do you see that? I know you’re a big data guy, Josh, to say the least. I mean, how many times do I have to tell our salespeople, “Hey, if you don’t have the data right in the system, you’re not going to give us enough of a heads up in order to be able to deliver successfully for you. We can’t forecast, we can’t allocate resources down the road,” and so it kind of goes back to that same thing. If you’re going to structure an organization to have salespeople working in specific things and have maybe some data-driven inside salespeople supporting them that can update that data, great, then maybe you’re in a good spot. But if you’re not, if you don’t have that, then you very easily might be pointing him or her down the wrong sales channel. And, Josh, I think we talked a little bit about this last time, I’m sure you’d agree. Sometimes, it’s about the experienced reps that are all of a sudden in that prospecting seat and that outbound seat, right?

Josh Sweeney: Yeah.

Taylor Barnes: And, you know, I mean, I like to consider us seasoned people, Josh. We’re not old, we’re seasoned. Maybe it’s just us or whatever, if you’re seasoned out there and you’re not in the prospecting game anymore because of whatever reason, but I see that a lot too.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely. I mean, experienced reps doing prospecting, they’re in kind of the wrong channel, the wrong role. Another one that comes up with me a lot, or that I’ve seen before actually and with clients a lot, is they have somebody who’s very relationship driven and really wants to go out and do the networking, right? They want to be out of office, they want to be chatting up all the time, going to the events, and then all of a sudden, they’re at a desk, right? And this has been a challenge with COVID, right? There’s a lot of people that got most of their deals by going out and networking and being part of associations and now none of those are happening and now they’re at a desk. All of a sudden, their sales channel changed and they have to adapt. So, that’s a pretty big challenge as well.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, I agree. It’s one of those things where, when we talk about experienced reps, I mean, really, what we’re saying there is everybody comes to the ranks in their own time or whatever. So, if you bring someone on new, if you’ve evolved an individual and he or she has got loads of experience and you want to put them in the right roles, that’s great. But the key is the right roles. That’s, again, going back to our challenge, putting them in the right roles. Another thing that I see all the time here, Josh, and I know it’s really familiar on your side of the business too, is how much struggle some of these seasoned reps have in these digital sales channels that are so common in this workplace today. When you bring COVID into the situation, you’re exactly right, that’s just another example of interaction and relationship building and communication that’s so remote. And so, even when it comes to outbound prospecting, the lack of travel, the lack of getting in front of the individual and shaking some hands, having to really get familiar with what digital sales channels are, let alone how to maximize them, is challenging for some of the seasoned reps.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, most definitely. We see it with seasoned reps. We see it with a lot of seasoned sales leaders. And I think this is going to be a core differentiator going into 2021 and even the future of, you know, it’s going to be pretty tough to walk into a sales organization, a high performing sales organization, with reps that don’t know how to use technology —

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: — and we’re seeing that over and over where they just kind of hold up the phone or they don’t know how to use an e-mail template or they wonder why, “Well, why do I get logged out?” you know? Just like really standard basic questions we hear all the time with the technology. And I think that’s going to be a major differentiator for companies in the future. And those sales reps have to know how to use that digital channel. That’s going to be more and more common.

Taylor Barnes: Exactly. It comes down to like the old adage: old dogs, new tricks. It’s challenging for some people, yes, based on, you know, that they’re not familiar with it, but at least some people are willing. There’s a whole ’nother pile, Josh, that aren’t even willing. They’re just like, “Look, I’m gonna do it my way, I don’t need all this fancy data. I’m just gonna go on there and I’m gonna close and that’s gonna be it,” and, look, I love that kind of hustle. You know, coffee’s for closers, that grind. I love it. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a really cool attitude to have but I will say it is not as common, I should say, in this world. So having somebody that is just completely unwilling to get with the times and evolve into this digital world that we’re living in right now is a big challenge for a salesperson when they’re trying to find the right lane to put him or her in.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, most definitely. I mean, I think you hit it right on the head with the willingness to go in and put in the time and learn those, spend the time understanding how to use LinkedIn or Sales Navigator or, you know, all the other tools that are out there. And, look, there’s a lot of them and it’s a lot to learn and it’s hard to keep up with, don’t get me wrong, but it’s going to become harder and harder, I think, to do the job in the future without having that understanding.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

The leaders challenge/purpose

Josh Sweeney: So, yeah, with that, what are some solutions, like when we have the right person in the wrong channel, the wrong seat, what are some different ways that we can preempt this and head this off early on?

Taylor Barnes: And I’ll probably spin this first one back on you only because I know you’ve got a lot of history in this and a lot of successful history, at that, but one of the ways is obviously the assessment. Assessment to understand what they would be good or not good at and that could be a personal assessment, professional skill set assessment, in some cases, language assessment, whatever it might be, to understand what they’d be good at. I know you’ve got a lot of history in that. Can you touch on really the value of this solution when it comes to the assessments to understand?

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely. I think the assessment comes in when you’re in the interview process or when there’s a major change in the organization, like we mentioned, COVID, where all of a sudden, these people can’t be out networking and that’s how they drove most of their sales and now you have to really switch gears, assessing them in a way that’s repeatable across all of your salespeople. So, like you said, it could be a personality assessment. Those will tell you whether this is a power connector person that’s going to want to be in front of people all day and if you put them at a desk, they’re going to be extremely unhappy with their job, you know, if they’re at their desk, 8, 10 hours a day. So, personality assessments can tell you really which direction. Skill level assessments, like you said. Can they use the technology? What is their typing skills? How can they manage data? You know, what is their aptitude to innovate and learn new things? You know, I think innovation is a big piece of that with the speed at which business is changing right now. Like you said, old dog, new tricks, but some of that’s inherent to the person, right? Can they —

Taylor Barnes: Yes.

Josh Sweeney: — innovate and can they keep up? So, there’s all kinds of assessments that can be done and we just want to make sure that we’re doing them in different ways, like I said, going back to the hiring process and know what you’re hiring for, to be able to compare five different applicants against the same assessment taken by your top sales reps. How do they actually compare? Does it work? What was the outcome? So, another one I know of is, you know, solution is really splitting the roles. So, you talked a little bit about this but, I mean, how do you split the roles to ensure people are doing what they should and they’re using the channels that they should?


Taylor Barnes: We’ll use that example that you just had where you’ve got, maybe it’s a seasoned individual that is willing but is slow to learn or is not willing and just wants to stick to the ways that they have transacted business in the past. However, they’ve got value so you don’t want to lose them. Well, one of the ways that you’re talking about is splitting the roles based on the skill set and personality. So, you don’t have to give somebody an assessment when they’re just coming on board. Feel free to do that right now. Feel free to do that right now and learn who you have as a valuable contender in that seat and then once you have that, you know, you can learn what he or she is not and then you can maybe add a role or split a role with someone else based on a skill set and personality that you need for the right channel. And if you do that, you’re going to get kind of the best of both worlds. It doesn’t say that one person needs to be in one channel, you can have a few people, you can have a team, you know, in the right channel, but as long as you are splitting that role and maximizing that swimlane based on skill set and personality, you should have a pretty good result.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely, and, I mean, we see this all the time in different ways, right? Where an inside and an outside rep are paired up to attack a given market or territory or an SDR is paired up with one or two different inside sales reps or outside sales reps. So, the SDR’s goal is really to be really good at the tools. Maybe it’s somebody that’s younger, that’s more used to technology, leveraging those tools to set meetings. You know, there’s all kinds of ways to split the role based on the skill set, the personality, and make sure that they come together as a high performing sales team.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah. And, you know, just pragmatically speaking, another solution here is just have a lot of laser focus on that job description. So, if you’re going to put somebody in a channel, make sure that you’ve got a laser-focused description and definition of what that channel is, what that job description looks like, what’s a day in the life, what are appropriate amount of daily or weekly or whatever KPIs associated with that, so that you and the individual that you’re putting in that channel have a full-blown agreement on what’s to be expected. A lot of times, I think, Josh, there’s a lot of sales managers and sales leaders out there that just assume, “This is a very outgoing individual, perfect, we’ll put them in this channel.” “This is a very left-minded, analytical, heavy data driven, oh, great, then we’re going to put them in this digital sales channel.” Look, and you might be right in terms of the tip of the spear, getting them started, having them penetrate the appropriate sales channel, but unless you are very clear on what that job description looks like as a day in the life, short term, long term, well, what’s going to happen is you’re going to, and we’ve talked about this before, it’s going to be mentally debilitating for that salesperson if he or she isn’t really firmly understanding what’s expected of them within that sales channel. So I would say, extreme focus on the job description is another way that you can nip this in the bud.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely. And, I mean, when you look at that job description, if it covers, you know, if you read like Predictable Revenue and you compare the different segments and jobs and sales roles in that book versus your job description and that job description basically covers four different jobs, that’s an indicator that it’s not laser-focused —

Taylor Barnes: Right, right.

Josh Sweeney: — it’s all over the place, they have to do all these different things, it’s like you’re going for one super human in one role and something’s gonna fall off. So, I like to pick, you know, for that job description, if it’s an SDR, what is the single most important thing we’re really focusing on? How are they going to set meetings? If it’s a sales rep, you know, inside sales rep, how are we focusing on that? If it’s outside sales rep, if it’s, you know, somebody that’s mainly generating leads through networking, what are the requirements? And then look at where those requirements conflict. Like you said, I like the idea of looking at the day in the life of and I actually map that day in the life of out and say, “Okay, what doesn’t really fit?” Like can they really go to three networking meetings a week? Are there that many that are going on that are actually helpful?

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: Or when they’re back at the office, what are they going to be doing? Or what organization are they going to be part of? So, looking at the balance and really the time available in the day will help also with what should and shouldn’t be in that job description.

Taylor Barnes: 100 percent. It’s like Brendon Burchard says, “The main thing is to make the main thing the main thing.”

Josh Sweeney: Exactly.

Taylor Barnes: And he’s exactly right and it’s funny, I think he’s on to something, Josh, because I think if you say that once, just the main thing once, you might not be hearing it, but if you say it three times in a row, I think they’re gonna start to get it. So, laser focus on the job description, making the main thing the main thing, and at least to start, making sure that they are in the right sales channel from the get-go. Like you said, Josh, doing a day in the life, mapping that out, I think is huge, because it’s like we said, look, some of the sales work is monotonous, okay? So maybe you’re going to have to have some assessments to understand what they’d be good at. Some experienced reps don’t like to prospect. They like to be the closers. And that’s that. So, do you need to split a role based on that skill set and personality? And then how evolved have they been or how willing are they to get involved in what is the most digital workforce environment that we’ve ever seen? Are they willing to create some new tricks being an old dog or what have you? Do they need an education? Do they need training on it? And if you can get that and understand all those things that go into making laser focus on the job description, I think you’re gonna have less of a challenge when you try to consider what person needs to go into what channel.

Final Question

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, most definitely. And that leaves us with our final question: Are you assigning your sales rep to the right sales channel?

Taylor Barnes: And this has been Purpose-Driven Sales with Barnes and Sweeney. Now, go lead with purpose.

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