Deciding on the size of the sales team is not only about cost: it is about the challenge of hiring the right Hunters and Farmers.
When hiring Hunters and Farmers, the bank is seeking different profiles. That does not mean that a Hunter cannot become a Farmer and vice-versa. Because sales jobs can be very stressful, banks need, from time-to-time, to move sales professionals from their day-to-day job to prevent them burning out. We will discuss this later in this Module.
Independent of whether they are a Hunter or Farmer, there are profiles of types of salespeople that are always the most desired.
Sales professionals call the most preferred ones ‘Eagles’: Eagles are authentic, self-aware people that understand their strengths, and have the humility to know when and where to improve. They seek ways to improve and can take full responsibility for their actions.
As they are confident, secure people, they can interact with a large variety of individual customers, respecting their values and point of views, to establish trust. Eagles require a low level of supervision from their manager, and deliver what is expected by adapting themselves to different situations.
The dream of any sales manager is to only have Eagles, but that is difficult to achieve and as a result a bank must use a combination of technology and customer knowledge to reduce the number of salespeople required.
Most sales teams comprise ‘Swallows’. Swallows need leadership and guidance because of their personality or lack of experience. They do not have the self-awareness or confidence of an Eagle. Swallows start jobs, pause, and do not complete them promptly and are frightened of taking risks and personal responsibility for their actions. They flock around the leader, seeking guidance and reassurance. The best way to improve their performance and security is through constant training and coaching. They need a process with clear steps to create a routine to deliver what is expected. Over time, if they persist, some of them may become Eagles.
There is a third salesperson, called the ‘Turkeys’. An experienced sales trainer once described them: “They make a lot of noise and move their wings, but do not fly”. Turkeys talk a lot, claim to have visited or contacted many customers, but deliver no sales results. They frequently blame the product or the service, bringing many excuses and problems to their supervisor, but when given the opportunity, do not focus on learning to improve. Socially, they are nice and fun people, but they do not focus on the job and therefore have very low productivity.
A sales professional needs to be extroverted, persistent and self-secure to be able to understand and adapt to their surroundings. They need to be humble and to solve customer’s or prospect’s problems through agile thinking. This is important as they are normally alone when facing prospects and customers, so their ability to deal with unusual situations and opportunities effectively is fundamental.
When a bank plans to hire sales professionals, it should use tools and techniques to seek these positive characteristics and always try to hire Eagles, even knowing that it will end up with many Swallows and hopefully no Turkeys.
One last very important point to consider when managing a retail sales force is the sense of urgency that any retail sales professional must have. In Retail, because of the large number of customers being managed, an effective professional must always try as much as they can to solve the problems as they occur. If they leave an issue to be dealt with later, it has a very high probability of being forgotten among the urgent new issues that arise every day. It is important for a sales manager recruiting new employees to seek professionals with characteristics that show a sense of urgency.