A common frustration in sales recruitment is an inflexible demand for niche skills. Many experienced salespeople are rejected for roles despite being accomplished sellers simply because they don’t have expert knowledge in a specified field.
Often these same rejected candidates, once successfully employed in a high-ranking position elsewhere and looking to hire themselves, will also demand for prospective employees to possess niche skills. This cycle is understandable – familiarising new employees with an unfamiliar industry can take up both time and resources – but companies are missing out on talented candidates and the search for the ‘perfect’ person will ultimately draw out the recruitment process unnecessarily, or even cause it to fail altogether.
There are many advantages to employing a salesperson possessing excellent generalised sales skills rather than particularised skills. For one, suitable candidates can be found quicker and of higher-quality – after all, having a salesperson who is an expert in a particular field does not necessarily make them a good salesperson.
Additionally, as the emphasis in sales recruitment should always be on the candidate’s ability to provide an effective, tailor-made service, the role will inevitably involve some level of research and preparation in order to meet the needs of the individual client. A good salesperson will be able to rise to the challenge whenever there is a gap in their knowledge by ensuring they familiarise themselves with the product or service prior to attempting a discussion, negotiation or sale.
When it comes to the career prospects of individual salespeople, having a broad range of experiences rather than specialised knowledge will allow them to thrive within a competitive market, particularly at the beginning of their career. When broaching managerial positions it may be important for niche skills to be honed and developed, but generally it is important for sales candidates to be able to adapt depending on industry requirements, especially in such tumultuous economic times.
Sales is reaching a new era. Information is easier to come by, what with online resources and the ability to review and rate almost everything, and clients are therefore no longer looking solely for information from salespeople. What is needed more and more is an understanding of the individual’s needs and an appreciation of the problems faced. Niche skills are certainly not detrimental to business, but fixatedly seeking them out can be a hindrance.