Disrupter businesses like Uber, Amazon and Facebook have changed the business world forever. Not just in the standards they set for consumers, but also in shaping the way we work. Gone are the days of the dull staff canteen, to be replaced by beanbags, footie tables and free Budweisers.
You might question the nutritional value, but with their “snacks on demand” policies, nobody is going hungry in these organisations.
So what do people mean when they demand that their sales team is “hungry”?
It’s a word that’s probably never appeared in anyone’s job description. Rather you’ll find descriptions like “proactive”, “initiative” and “finding opportunities”. The thing is, wouldn’t you want that of all your team? Surely you would want people in marketing or finance to be proactive and show initiative, so that doesn’t explain the “hungry” sales angle.
Nor is it any longer enough for sales teams to be chasing headless around the country. Businesses are only too aware of the increasing costs of having sales people on the road, with the price of cars, fuel and (ahem!) sales bonuses adding to the equation. Targeting the right customers and focusing sales resources carefully is the new normal. It’s more menu planning than just plain hungry.
So maybe the idea of the “hungry” sales team is more of an emotional concept. Every company needs a heartbeat; the Why? that gets everyone out of bed in the morning and helps create the long-term success of the business. Maybe it’s the outgoing nature of sales people that creates the buzz, the energy and the optimism that keeps that pulse rate high.
This might all sound a bit frivolous, but if it’s your job to build that management team it’s critical stuff. Nobody ever set a measurable target for being “hungry”, nor does it appear in interview competencies.
So if you want your sales team to look “hungry” you need to work out what exactly you mean by that. Build it into job descriptions in ways that it can be quantified, make sure you recruit for those skills and then ensure those habits are recognised and encouraged on a regular basis.
Oh, and remember that you’re expecting some of the same behaviours from other teams too. There’s nothing more sure to put your sales team on a diet than working hard to find opportunities with customers only to be told by internal departments that things can’t be done.
Get all this right and the long sales lunch might be back on the menu!