Jo is a technically brilliant accountant who has worked hard to climb her way up to the upper echelons within a large management consultancy firm. Along with her strong technical skills, Jo has always been great with clients, providing an efficient, flexible and supportive service, building relationships based on trust, and providing insight and advice that really adds value. Jo has just been promoted to Partner and she is delighted – with one exception: It’s the first time that Jo has been given a sales target to meet. Jo does not see herself as a salesperson. She knows she is great at what she does, but now she is also expected to bring in significant amounts of business and will be judged accordingly.
So, what are Jo’s chances of success?
As Daniel Pink argues in his book, To Sell is Human, we are all in sales.
The good news is that Jo is already showing some of the key behaviours and personal drive characteristics that are critical for successful strategic salespeople: She is driven and focused on her own progression; she is confident in her abilities; she has spent many years building trusted relationships with her clients and provides them with insightful input based on her technical expertise.
The areas that Jo now needs to work on include her self-belief when it comes to winning new business and increasing the value of her existing client portfolio. She needs to accept her “salesperson” role and to recognise how her existing skills, attributes and activities can help her achieve her new goals. She needs to identify which skills and activities may be missing from her toolkit, and receive targeted and informed sales training for these areas. And she needs to re-focus her goals and personal drive to incorporate the sales elements of her new role.
This will be a familiar scenario for many consultancy organisations, where your highly valued consultants / accountants / lawyers (i.e. your technical experts) are promoted to senior / Partner positions and given ownership of a sales target. Many will thrive in their new role. Others will flounder. At worst, your valued employee will leave the organisation as they feel the pressure of ‘underperformance’ for the first time in their careers.
Our Acuity®for Strategic Sales assessment model, developed by Business Psychologists and based on research of 10,000s of salespeople, confirms the critical success factors required of strategic salespeople comprising three key dimensions all of which are required to be successful:
- Personal Drive (will they do it)
- Sales Focus (what they do)
- Interpersonal Insight (how they do it)
Some aspects are trainable. Some are not. Do your technical experts have the Acuity® to be successful in strategic sales?