Question: What do the names Eddie Johnson, JJ Redick, Trent Tucker, and Craig Hodges have in common?
Answer: They’re all NBA basketball players who were able to have successful careers primarily by being proficient at one thing (and not much else):
Making three-point shots.
These were players who realized that the highest value to their teams was to focus on what they did well—and develop as many “sub-skills” around that core value as they could.
JJ Redick will never win a dunk contest, or be considered anything more than a mediocre defender—but he has perfected the art of coming off screens, and has a lightning-quick shot release.
It’s not always the case, but in today’s Sales 2.0 World, a lot of the time it’s better to be fantastically good at one thing than to be average at half-a-dozen.
I mention this because we see a lot of companies that still treat their sales reps as “generalists,” meaning that they’re responsible for the entire end-to-end sales process (finding leads, qualifying leads, closing sales).
In our experience, when set up correctly, sales teams perform significantly better when they switch to a specialist model, where one group of reps handle inbound leads and lead generation, and the other focuses on closing sales. Specialist models provide more accurate reporting, make better use of employee time, and let the system play to employees’ strengths.
XANT isn’t a perfect company, but one of the things our managers do well is in maximizing talent. They are unafraid to shift personnel within departments, or into new departments entirely if they feel the employee has skills that could be better utilized.
Our specialist sales model plays directly into this. By splitting up the sales process between lead generation and specialized closers, we’re able to better play to our team’s strengths. It works because it lets employees focus on their most important activities. It works because we can consolidate training and mentoring to provide the best core value in their specialty. They’re not having to constantly “switch gears” between two types of activities that require largely different skill sets.
While the initial investment in time and process is higher, “specialist” models generate more qualified leads, have higher contact rates, and develop more legitimate sales opportunities that ultimately produce more sales.