If you sell highly complex, technical products or services, should you hire a salesperson with relevant technical and industry experience and train them in sales, or hire someone with sales aptitude and train them in your product?
In my observation having worked with lots of technically based organisation, you should always hire for sales aptitude and then train them in your specific product or service.
Sales is about people. Being able to understand another’s thoughts, feelings, motivation, goals, values and beliefs. There is no recipe book.
Salespeople need a strong self-belief, be able to handle rejection and press on. They need to be able to uncover opportunities, often at a business and strategic level.
Technical people who move into sales are happiest uncovering technical problems to solve. And then proposing solutions to those.
But that’s leaving things at a surface level.
There are always deeper issues that often come up when moving from a technical sale to issues which affect the business more deeply, often at a strategic level. That is where the greatest impact can be made.
But most technical salespeople won’t cross this bridge. They stay in their technical comfort zone which ultimately means it’s almost impossible for them to deal with upper management on a business level.
So if you’re selling complex solutions which involve business decisions hire salespeople who are capable of selling a concept and speaking the language of business, not technicians.
Then train them in whatever specific technology you provide.
One final thought. Talent alone isn’t enough.
Just because someone has an aptitude for sales doesn’t mean they shouldn’t hone their skills with appropriate training and coaching. All successful performers in any field have a coach who guides and keeps them on track.
So if you’d like our help to improve your sales performance, reach out.