Why Reassignments Fail Across Different Selling Functions
By Rowen Untivero
 
“I know salespeople who found difficulty performing after being transferred from one type of selling function to a different one; while there are others who can move successfully to any selling function. What gives? Mr. Capricorn- General Sales Manager
 
In multi-channel set-ups, sales managers ponder a similar query with perplexity while others remain ina limbo of denial before eventually grasping reality. Indeed, personnel movements provide career opportunities to employees and even at times to outsourced human assets when filling up vacated or newly created positions.  Without movements, people with career-clocked ambitions as well as those who get bored doing the same things after some time, become at risk of being lost to other companies or half-cocked entrepreneurial misadventures. From the company’s perspective, movements from within when filling up vacated or new posts seem more convenient compared to hiring someone from the outside, particularly if the position of destination is more complex than the position of origin.  The obvious expectation is that reassigning someone from within instead of hiring from the outside will enable quicker role assimilation. So when the migrant’s performance falters beyond the imagined honeymoon-period, the people who sponsored the movement, particularly the recipient is hard-gripped with the prospect that instead of a solution, a problem has been created. The anomaly is further compounded when the old post has also been filled up. And even if it has not, some position migrants will find the boomerang assignment a punitive measure, resulting to either actual or psycho-emotional resignation.
 
So, how do we triumphantly transmogrify salespeople from a certain type of selling function to another? What critical components must we consider?
 
UNDERSTANDING THE RICH DIVERSITY OF SALES SPECIES
 
Old-school commercial taxonomy, distinguish between ‘hunters’ and ‘farmers’.  ‘Hunters’ are those who need to prospect for their customers while ‘farmers’ sell to the same lot each time.  Sometimes, ‘hunters’ are also loosely associated with account development while ‘farmers’ with account management. By making a distinction, the functions can be better delineated and critical competencies identified.
 
Nowadays, other sub-classifications have surfaced based on whether the customers will be inbound or outbound-sought or a combination of both.  Another classification is based on mode of contact: splitting among non-personal, voice only, face-to-face or multi-interface. Still another contrasts between simple or complex buying processes involved. Likewise, there is differentiation among, nomadic, account-specific, segment-specific, territorial-geographic and combined assignments.  Noteworthy as well is position segmentation based on business-to-consumer, business-to-business, business-to-retailer, business-to-channel partner and hybrids of such.  Suffice it to say, there are multitudes of ways to classify selling functions.
 
The crux of the matter though is that both pronounced and subtle nuances between the origin and destination functions pose dead spots for sales position migrants.  The weightier monster to perhaps confront and accept is that the movement sponsors are partly to blame for not diligently matching pre-disposition indicators of the salespeople with their positions of destination as well as for not equipping the position migrants with the appropriate skills and tools.
 
 
MATCHING PRE-DISPOSITION
 
Prior to deciding a salespersons prospective positional movement from one sales function to another, you can use the Mansmith 5As: Acumen, Abilities, Attitudes, Attractiveness and Advantages to guide you.
 
Acumen’ here pertains to accumulated knowledge of the company, the markets and their related dynamics.  As far as ‘abilities’ are concerned, the more pertinent indicator is the candidate’s past demonstration of learning and unlearning methodology, when coping with situational adversity and diversity. As for ‘attitudes’, the most important ones include change adaptability, low- frustration-to-challenge index and possessing more curiosity juice than fear shells.  Needless to say, the position of destination must be perceived by the potential migrant as more favourably ‘attractive’ in relation to the current position as well as track-friendly to what drives them.  Ultimately, a candidate’s ‘advantage’ is borne out of having the closest match with the earlier 4As versus other potential position migrants.
 
NEED FOR NEW SKILLS AND TOOLS
 
Undeniably, to succeed in a new selling function, albeit some skills will be transferable, new ones will be required to cover nuances of the selling position of destination.  Complementarily, additional tools may also be needed, particularly if the new post requires more planning in either a tactical or strategic sense.
 
 
Rowen Untivero is a Partner and Chief Sales Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc., the country’s leading marketing, sales, strategy and innovation training company.  Rowen is the developer of an original Mansmith’s Framework on “Selling Success Equation”.  He has been injecting much practicable science into sales management, negotiations, selling and general management for more than a quarter of a century. Please send your questions, comments or feedback to mentors@mansmith.net. You can also visit www.mansmith.net.