Sales talent decreasing your software shelf life?
While change is inevitable, like many people I find adjustment to new software to be time consuming and challenging.
For those selling and implementing software into the asset intensive space it can be rather counter-intuitive at times. I’ve seen on several occasions that by the time the 12 to 18 month sales cycle is completed and the client has purchased and implemented the product, the solution is outdated before it’s even been used!
Equally post this process there is still the challenge of employees utilising the solution, let alone seeking to utilise all features and value add. Engineers often inform me that internal, rudimentary solutions, can be just as fit for purpose, based on the time and cost involved.
Many software vendors globally, who appear to have affordable, fit for purpose solutions, ultimately never reach their potential or manage to keep up with the pace of the ever-changing technology and software landscape.
Integrating talent with technology
I’ve observed a few of these over the past 6-12 months and for most the key differentiator for success is the quality of the talent selling and implementing such solutions.
Failure’s inevitable without a clear and efficient talent strategy. I’m a firm believer that it is not just a numbers game, as much as what is the solution, why is it unique, how will we develop it, what technology will be used in terms of platform and programming, will it be on premises or cloud, vendors need to ask;
- What is the most appropriate sales approach based on the end user market and buying habits?
- Is it off the shelf or fully customised, how does this affect our hiring strategy?
- What do we know about the decision-making process at the customer, will there be multiple departments and decision makers, will this prolong the sales process?
Having well defined ideas on these subjects helps to set a benchmark which you can vet any prospective talent against. Whilst there will always be the temptation to recruit from the competition; progressive employers, who attract the very best talent are often those that have a clear and well defined recruitment process
One can assume the very best at the competition should not be seeking to leave to a competitor!
Whilst domain knowledge is often key for senior vacancies, I am a firm believer that focusing on competence and behaviours around domain knowledge is more important than simply seeking to hire from the competition. Without integrating your talent needs with your wider business strategy, you will continue to hire the wrong people, and then in my experience wonder what has gone wrong.
It takes a special kind of talent
I’m fortunate to work with clients across a broad range of technology types and what I call ‘applied software.’ These are the consultancies that often sit within large engineering contractors, who bring real life engineering and software experience to truly optimise the user and their enterprise. Customers want to see real value in what they buy, to know that it will work, it is sustainable and that it will not be out-dated by the time they start to see a return on their investment. That’s a hard sell and it takes a special talent to excel at that job!
Whilst not wanting to over justify my own existence, I am a firm believer that there remains a place for domain specific recruiters that will learn what competence and behaviours are required, the key features of the products, how they are sold and to whom, the personality of the business and be able to professionally ‘sell’ the company and position, the good, the bad and the truly ugly…
For more on the changing face of technology, my colleague James Gull has written more about the world of Digital Transformation and whether it’s all it’s cracked up to be.