Define and Use Sales Characteristics of the Top 20%
Many believe that the fastest and most effective way to grow revenue is by improving the performance of the sales team. Sales effectiveness should be a top priority for any CEO looking to grow their company.
Just consider a few statistics from recent research. In a report measuring Sales Performance by CSO Insights, over half of the sales workforce did not meet their quotas in 2009 and over 60% of company revenues were generated by only 20% of the sales force. In addition to this lack of productivity by the bulk of sales practitioners, businesses have to contend with the very expensive and unusually high drag of turnover in sales. Assuming that business leaders are doing their best to develop their salespeople in the kind of solution selling training that can produce real results, what is going wrong?
It seems leaders either do not select the right folks or they don’t focus on developing the right behaviors. As we have learned over two decades of working with clients to improve sales performance, it takes the right traits, the right drive and motivation AND the right skills to bring in the business results. Even if sales team members have learned solution selling skills, many lack the right combination of attitude and behavior to successfully apply those skills.
We believe that sales success is not just a matter of competency but the right blend of skills, attitude and behavior. To know just what levers to pull to improve sales results, you need to define the critical characteristics of those top 20% who are consistently successful.
- Figure out what specifically works in your business.
We recognize that sales situations differ from company to company and solution to solution. The definition of high sales performance will vary across geographies, companies, business divisions and sales roles. So you need to define the skills, communication styles and behaviors of your own top sales performers. This will become the sales profile of success that is specific to your business and your sales culture. It is also sometimes helpful to identify what the bottom 20% of your sales team is doing so you know where not to invest.
- Measure your current team against this profile.
Each sales team member should be assessed against the profile of your high performers.
- Identify and address sales gaps.
With the goal of helping individual team members to reach their full potential, share the assessment results with each salesperson and create individual development plans to address any sales skill, knowledge and attitude gaps. Be sure to provide ongoing coaching support so the new behaviors are monitored, encouraged and rewarded.
With the insight you have gained from a close look at your sales team and the new, tailored sales metrics for improvement, you can now do a better job of hiring, promoting, developing and retaining the top sales talent you need for success.