Let’s caveat our blog first. We see many businesses in the environmental and sustainability space as being growth organisations that are scaling up. If you are a growth organisation, at what point do you recruit someone specifically to focus on HR? When you have 10 employees? 25? 50? And when that first HR person is recruited, the focus is often really operational, policy and procedure creating and focused on recruitment and onboarding.
If this is you, you may be too bogged down to be doing anything about helping sales teams grow. However, if you are moving into a strategic, added value mindset then what we share below will help you to raise the profile of HR and hopefully get more internal or external support to bolster your team!
Now let’s look more closely at the context…
Within purpose led, values driven businesses you’ll often find teams of people passionate about contributing to making a difference within the world. This passion drives them to operate with integrity and motivates them to succeed. But quite often, there comes an internal moral battle between doing the right thing and making a business commercially profitable.
HR teams can and should have a huge impact on every business and be able to demonstrate this with a direct correlation between their actions and business performance. Easier said than done, but with sales teams having a distinct ££ number, there are advantages to working closely with them.
In this article we’ll share how strategic actions of HR when partnering with sales teams, can have a quantifiable business impact and further demonstrate why it’s critical HR take up a C-Suite seat.
So how can HR teams help drive commerciality within green teams and businesses?
Nurture your relationships
Building a relationship with your Sales leaders is invaluable; it helps you find out about the external market you’re operating in, customer profiles and equally as important, how your Sales leaders tick.
investing time here will deepen your connection, help you understand their world and enable you to devise people strategies and solutions that both align to the purpose of the organisation and are bespoke to their needs and their measured objectives.
Finding people driven by purpose and commerciality
It’s a tough recruitment market out there and recruiting great salespeople is one of the biggest challenges faced for sales leaders growing their business. What’s even more important for salespeople in green businesses is that they’re passionate about the environmental and sustainability market, but understand for your business to succeed they have to proactively sell!
Where can you add measured value? Being realistic and pragmatic in sales recruitment.
Speed & Quality: time without a salesperson in a role saves costs of salary etc; but has an impact on lost sales. Measure the average sales value of a salesperson and use this as a key metric.
Having laid the groundwork building your relationships, you’ll have clear insight into the sales strategy to make sure you’re designing attraction strategies that deliver their longer-term goals. The organisation has a strong purpose and wants to positively impact our planet, so you’re going to want to recruit people who can sell value and understand how to articulate that to your customers.
So, whilst technical know-how might (or might not) be important, it’s crucial that you identify the right behaviours that will deliver results. Being upfront about what you’re paying, what you can offer when it comes to development and making the interview processes as slick as possible will help you provide a candidate centric recruitment experience, standing out from the crowd and filling those vacancies with quality.
Your onboarding process needs to put your purpose and values as a business front and centre, that includes the offer experience. Practice what you preach when it comes to welcome packs; reams of paper documents might contradict your goals, so might tonnes of plastic branded merchandise, so get creative with digital and sustainable solutions.
Of course, you’re going to want to include sales training for the more inexperienced recruits, but focusing on your sustainability goals, environmental awareness and the unique aspects of your green products or services and how they add value to your market is fundamental.
Do you create the right first impression? It can be great hearing all the nice things about your workplace but sales people have a critical role in the success of your company. Get them motivated by that purpose and clear they have a role to play that involves grit, proactive attitude and resilience.
Get your new recruits working alongside your technical people as part of their induction, the closer these teams work together the greater technical capabilities and most importantly customer value, they’ll be able to articulate to the market.
Rewarding the right things
Sales bonus and commission schemes can often be a contentious topic, but when designed well, will result in a win/win for employees and for the business. Bonus strategies must respond to and deliver strategic priorities AND reward the right kind of behaviours.
You’ll never be able to make everyone happy with commission and bonus schemes, so it’s important you’re able to demonstrate a clear rationale backed up by data as to the “why”.
Be aware of the unintended consequences of your bonus and commission schemes. Stretch test it before roll-out and check through using “what if” scenarios to avoid future conflict or challenge.
Finally, measure the performance before and after using sales revenue/profit data, employee survey data and costs of the scheme to get that ROI.
You can save the planet and make a profit?
You might find that values driven folk find ‘selling’ harder to do, or because they’re passionate about the cause, that they ‘give away’ discounts readily or find objections harder to overcome. This is where investing in their commercial understanding and sales skills is really important.
Helping them understand the numbers, providing mentors to support development and devising training programmes that provide both the knowledge AND its’ practical application when it comes to closing deals is vital to organisational success.
Training can enable sales people to protect profit and still give a great customer experience!
Speed to Maturity
We talk about the “speed to maturity” for sales-people being “how long will it take for this salespersons performance plateau”. Thinking another way, if the average salesperson in an organisation sells £50,000 per month, then how long will it be from day 1 in the role, to that point of £50k?
Why is this important? Because the sooner salespeople get to that point, the more revenue they are producing each and every month.
Let’s say current average speed to maturity of £50k per month = 9 months. What if you could improve that to 8 months? Then the difference in total sales through that period is significant and if you’re recruiting in bulk then the numbers get really exciting!
Lots to make this happen: slick recruitment and onboarding experience, sales management engagement, training/coaching/mentoring steps, smart goals and objectives to name a few.
Good people will demand great Sales leaders, so investing in leadership skills is just as important. Recognition and celebration with equally robust processes that support and address low performance will result in clear expectations and strong team cultures.
This sales to maturity gives you a brilliant metric in and of itself, and then a follow up challenge/opportunity. You’ll have more employees motivated and skilled who want more so how you then continue to move their development through the business is next!
It can be easy to forget these critical stakeholders when bogged down in reactive people work, but investing time with your Sales leaders gives you invaluable insight into the market your company is operating in and an opportunity to leverage success.
This helps you design tailored strategies and initiatives that respond to the recruitment, reward and development needs of these teams, providing the best experience for this client group. And we know that engaged teams outperform disengaged businesses every time.
Ultimately, HR has a critical role to play in the financial and human sustainability of the organisation, but sometimes it’s on the HR leaders to find those gaps to then demonstrate where they can add real value.
Not sure on how this applies to your business or what to do next? Get in touch and we’re happy to help contact the friendly wayvie team for a free consultation.