There are different types of organization, just as there are different types of salespeople. There are the neat freaks and then there are the subscribers to “organized chaos.”
No matter how you slice it, the best sales reps have some method of staying organized.
But how organized must a person be to be a great sales rep? And how can you find candidates with high levels of organization to join your sales team?
First, let’s clarify, organization does not always mean color coded filing, neatly packed storage bins or putting away everything in its place.
Organization – more specifically, mental organization – means having a method for remembering important information and the ability to focus on certain tasks. A high level of organization often means that you handle time management effectively and are able to focus on details.
Messy ≠ Disorganized
There is a difference between a messy person and a disorganized person.
Just because someone has a hard time being clean or tidy, it does not mean that she is unable to keep her thoughts organized. A disorganized person has a harder time recalling important tasks and deadlines than a messy person has finding her keys.
A sales rep with a messy desk is nothing to fear. Recent studies suggest that people with messy desks are actually more focused and better at thinking clearly. A prominent example of a messy, but brilliant person is Albert Einstein. If you question his messiness, just look at that hair!
As the New York Times puts it:
Contrary to popular belief, messiness is not necessarily a sign of mental disorganization. Who among us doesn’t know a messy person who can instantly retrieve, from a bewildering stack of papers, exactly what he’s looking for?
So do not fire your sales rep because her cubicle looks like a file cabinet exploded. She might be messy, but she probably has her own unique method for being organized.
A completely disorganized salesperson, on the other hand, is someone you should avoid hiring if you want to maintain sales growth. If you implement a sales recruitment assessment as part of your hiring process, be sure that it can determine a candidate’s level of organization.
Organization: How Important Is It for Sales?
A better question might be, “How important is it for maintaining sales growth?”
And the answer would be “Extremely.”
A sales rep with exceptional organizational skills will most likely be a farmer. Farmers have the ability to focus on detail-oriented work and will check thoroughly for mistakes.
A great farmer will have a system for remembering clients, their unique needs and how to best leverage their relationship. She will track contacts and, more importantly, she will have the discipline to follow up with clients. Farmers are responsible for cultivating return buyers, which in turn, lowers attrition rates.
You can depend on a farmer to have excellent time management skills. She will rarely miss a deadline or a meeting. Her organizational skills are a true asset to any sales team. Without her organizational skills, your team may be missing opportunities to develop quality, lasting relationships with your clients.
Can a disorganized sales rep make up for it with other qualities?
The answer depends on the type of sales representative needed at your company. If your attrition rates are low, but so are your new leads, then you need to focus less on organization and more on someone with high-Drive.
When others suggest that disorganized people make great sales representatives, they are typically referring to hunters. Some hunters test lower than farmers for organization on a sales recruitment assessment, but the best candidates to hire will still rank at least average for organization.
These hunters make up for their lack of organization with seemingly boundless energy and Optimism. Hunters are great at generating new leads and closing sales with new clients.
Hunters must have some level of organization to succeed, however, a hunter with a complete lack of organization will find leads, but is highly likely to miss meetings and deadlines or follow up with leads that may need some nurturing.
The Odd Couple
Hollywood figured out the winning combination decades ago, and it still sells today. The partnership of organized and slightly disorganized plays out in sitcoms, buddy-cop movies and even dramas.
Pairing opposites together balances a cast and will balance your sales team for maximum sales growth.
Because of their level of organizational skills, hunters may not be the best at following up with clients and do not perform well when micromanaged. For these reasons, it is always best to pair a hunter with a farmer on your sales team.
Pairing farmers and hunters together balances your team and produces sales growth. Hunters will land new clients, and farmers will turn those new clients into repeat buyers. This combination is the best way to avoid hitting sales plateaus and slumps.
How to Ensure Your Sales Team is Organized
Adding a sales recruitment assessment to your hiring process enables you to identify candidates with high levels of organizational skills. Testing existing sales reps at your company will also allow you to better place employees into more suitable roles and partnerships.
But it does not begin and end with the sales assessment. As a manager, you must be diligent and able to recognize your team’s strengths and weaknesses in order to continually coach your team effectively.
What do you think? Have you found a clear difference between your most and least successful salespeople in terms of organizational skills? Let us know by commenting below.