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Like Herding Cats

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As you may know, I share this blog with my colleague Joe Cordo, Bullhorn’s VP of Marketing. Joe did a great job of introducing our Blog to you in his innaugaural post. He also did a great job driving the vision for this site. I’m excited to be a part of it and I’m looking forward to both contributing and learning here. I manage the sales team at Bullhorn. Ultimately I’m responsible for delivering new customers. I have been recruiting, selling, and managing in the Staffing & Recruiting Market for 18 years now. That time has been divided between Staffing Firms, Consulting Firms, and Vendors that develop technology for them. Along with making me old, that gives me some unique perspective. In my role I talk to a lot customers and prospective customers where I get an incredible insight into what people in the industry are up against when it comes to driving results. I also get volumes of collective feedback from our sales team.

At Bullhorn we are very consultative in how we sell, so we hear a lot about business goals and challenges. Recently one of our prospective customers used one of my favorite characterizations about managing sales people – I hadn’t heard it in a while – but like anyone that has managed sales people I immediately identified with him. When the conversation turned to how they managed sales people he said, “Well, managing sales people is like herding cats. I need them to do something, they know what I need them to do, and if I’m lucky – we all end up in the same place.” We all had a good laugh, but it left me wondering whether there was an issue with clear communication of expectations, leadership, the ability to track results against expectations, or all of the above. A little too much dependency on luck for my taste. How much of sales, and managing sales, is an art? How much of it is science? As sales managers we try to implement processes and tracking mechanisms to report on our progress. At the same time we need to let sales people be creative and build relationships with customers – hard to measure.

I have my own perspective on how to balance between the art and the science of sales, but I thought this forum might be a good place to gain some additional perspective. How much process is too much? Can you be too focused on sales metrics? Is it possible to implement a sales process that sales people view as help, vs. a requirement? I’m looking forward to hearing what people think. If I’m lucky someone will think of another sales management characterization I love, the famous “Goat Rodeo.” Thanks for reading!

This Bullhorn Blog post was written by George LaRocque.