This could be one of the dumbest mistakes business owners and sales managers make…

“A salesperson is a salesperson is a salesperson.”  Right?

When you hire a salesperson, it’s only fair and right and the best use of their talents to have them cold-call, and prospect, and follow-up on their old accounts, and…

That’s how most business people think.

After all, if you lump all of those under “sales” jobs, it would make sense that you’d have whoever you hired in sales to do those things.

Now here’s an alternative take…

Have you heard of the concept of highest and best use?

The idea is that different resources should be allocated to where they get their highest and best use.

And, in fact, businesses do this with human resources all the time.  Once you get through the initial startup phase where the first couple employees basically have to do EVERYTHING, you start hiring to job roles.  So, for example, you don’t put your IT staff on sales calls, and your marketing staff also isn’t on the factory floor building things.

This division of labor can also happen inside departments.

Think about this…

The skill of closing a big deal is very different than the skill of being able to cold-call to set an appointment.

Let’s look at a product I’ve sold before.  IT training.

It takes one general skill set to be the person who takes the calls when a caller responds to “Press 1 for sales.”

It’s another thing entirely to cultivate an ongoing relationship with a training manager at a major military base, help them understand how a multi-seat training solution could fit their needs, help them compare your solution to the competition and see its advantages, then hold their hand and act as a resource during the purchasing process.

And it’s yet another skill still to be able to get those training managers to raise their hand and express interest in the solution in the first place.  Or to cold call people with the title of “training manager” to see who is open to considering your solution in the first place.

The more you break it down, the better opportunity you have to find best fits…

I’m not saying every sales department has to be 15 people, each with a specific tiny role in the process.  In the early days, there’s often one sales person, and that’s it.

But as a business grows, specialization can be a better route than duplication.  By that I mean, you don’t hire the second salesperson to match everything the first was doing.  Rather, you look at what the first does best and that is their route to providing the most value, and you let them keep that for sure.  Then you consider what is taking substantial time from the first salesperson’s schedule, but that can be fulfilled by someone who doesn’t have the same expertise elsewhere.  And you hire to divide the workload so more people are spending more time on their biggest strengths.

Incidentally, division of labor is one of the key factors behind the rise of humankind.  As we live closer together, we can split jobs better, and each benefit from everyone else’s specialized labor.  It works on both macro and micro levels.

Think about it this way…

What if you were the head of a major hospital, and you brought one of the world’s most renowned brain surgeons?  You would no sooner ask them to prep their own surgical tools than you would ask them to do the hospital’s books or sweep the hospital’s floors.

Or let’s say you were the head of a major international architecture firm, and you brought in a hot new architectural designer.  It’s critically important to expressing the architect’s vision that the building is actually built, and well.  But you wouldn’t sign off on the plans for a major skyscraper, and then give them a hardhat and a riveting gun.

Or, a bit closer to home, I’ve never heard of a major direct mail firm hiring a top copywriter, and then asking them to lick stamps.

Highest and best use necessitates that you take full advantage of a resource by dedicating it toward where it creates the most value, and minimizing its use where it creates far less value.

This is MOST important with your best talent — especially salespeople.

One more idea about how to get the most out of your best salespeople: don’t make them prospect at all…

Selling and closing sales — especially higher-end sales — requires a certain finesse, mindset, and skill in relationship-building.

Prospecting (and similar tasks such as appointment-setting) primarily requires brute force with a smile and a kind attitude.

Prospecting requires you to get rejected, and try again, and get rejected, and try again, and get rejected, and try again.

When you’re shoving your best salespeople into that situation non-stop, it completely upends their ability to form relationships and close high-end deals.

A good alternative is to have appointment-setters who simply set appointments for the best salespeople, and make sure it’s good prospects who are showing up ready.

A better appointment is to replace prospecting entirely with a sophisticated marketing approach that does most of that work for you, so an ideal prospect is showing up to talk to the best salesperson, pre-qualified, pre-motivated, and pre-educated about doing business with you.

Marketing can take 100 rejections without it impacting the tone or quality of delivery the 101st time.

But let your best salespeople focus on that 101st person, who it turns out is really interested and will only give more momentum to your top salesperson.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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