I have assessed hundreds of candidates who are up for promotion to more senior roles in professional service firms and I am yet to come across one whose burning desire is to become the top salesperson. Experts in their field, trusted partner to their clients, yes. But not a salesperson. The word ‘sales’ is rarely mentioned. Client management, business origination, occasionally business development, but sales? No, we’re a little more sophisticated here thank you!
We’re all far too used to settling for a team that has a one or two sales superstars, an acceptable number of patchy performers (who somehow pull something out of the bag on the last day of the month!), and a few people who used to show potential but have slightly lost the plot and failed to shine. We’ve all worked in these teams and you might even be at risk of putting together your own version of such a team right now.
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.