Before he was Conan the Barbarian, the Terminator and the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a world champion bodybuilder. He arrived in Hollywood just as the film industry was in the middle of a transition. The making of movies use to be controlled by the studios, then by the stars, and now, by the box office. This means the investment required for the production of a film is so large today that the producers and the studios cannot afford to make a mistake. To ensure they get a ROI, everything is measured and managed. Sound like your industry?
Francis Ford Coppola dealt with these pressures when making the movie The Godfather. His choice to play Don Vito Corleone was Marlon Brando. The executives at Paramount, the studio producing the movie, wanted nothing to do with Brando because he had delayed production on his recent movies. Delays meant increased costs and cut into their profits. Paramount was putting up $2 million dollars to produce the film, a lot of money at that time, and they wanted an insurance policy that things would stay on schedule. Coppola was allowed to cast Brando only if he got the actor to accept a lower salary than he had been paid for his previous films, to perform a screen-test, and to put up a bond ensuring that he would not cause any delays in production.
The Godfather was the highest grossing picture ever made for some time. It also ended and era where studios would take such a risk.
One of the actors the movie made a star was James Caan. Caan, however, was overlooked in future hit movies such as, Kramer vs. Kramer because he was considered too difficult to work with. The tide had turned in Hollywood and inexpensive, up-and-coming actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger were cast in movies. The main reason was that they were coachable. They listened to the director, practiced their craft, and were amiable to what the director and studio wanted, i.e. no delays in production.
Hollywood and making movies had become big business and they needed players that could adapt to the new way of doing business.
Most industries… like car dealerships, insurance, janitorial supply, and broadcast to name a few… went through similar transitions. As these industries went through their transition, the most valued attribute in their salespeople was adaptability. The ones that did not fight the transition and adjusted to how the companies did business as well as, the changes in the marketplace were the ones valued and promoted.
For the remainder of this decade, the marketplace will continue to evolve rapidly. Companies wanting to prosper will do the same. This makes the adaptability trait one of the key traits to screen for in your salespeople.
I already see this happening. For example, gone are the days where the “Lone Ranger” salesperson is valued in most companies. These salespeople are obsolete and only have opportunities left at smaller companies who still value the sales volume they can produce and who overlook or tolerate them not being team players. In industries that have a longer sales cycle that requires a more complex sales approach and the salesperson needs to bring in subject matter experts, the ability to adapt and be a team player is most valued.
The problem is that most leaders of companies are part of the “Lone Ranger” generation where they cut their teeth in the sales world on straight commission and having to do it all. This clouds their view on what it takes to be successful in sales today. When hiring a salesperson today, the debate should not be over whether one selling style is better than another. It should be on whether or not the candidate you are considering can grow and adjust to a changing marketplace.
Let me give you an example in my world. As the number of people searching for jobs on their mobile devices increases, their tolerance for companies that do not have mobile-friendly career sites seems to be decreasing. Nearly one-third of CareerBuilder.com’s traffic each month comes from mobile devices; however, CareerBuilder’s tracking shows that as much as 40 percent of mobile candidates abandon the application process when they are notified they are about to encounter a non-mobile friendly application process. While we don’t use job boards to source our candidates, the implication of this trend is not lost on us.
In order to be successful as a recruiter today, you must understand and utilize social media. More importantly, you must understand it at the conceptual level so you can adapt to new applications and the way they are utilized. Everything being equal among candidates… for us, whoever has this ability wins out.
What about in your world?
What underlying shifts are taking place on how you do business with your customers?
How do you know that the salesperson you hire and invest in today will not be obsolete three years from now?