… Famous last words of a FORMER  top sales executive…

Top performing sales organizations have a robust process in place to Find, Obtain, Develop and  Retain top flight sales performers.  They do several things very well, and have adopted systems and metrics to measure and improve all aspects of the sales and marketing  processes. The best sales enterprises  with whom I have worked all share a critical focus on two simple areas, each having three critical components.

Find and Obtain

  • They know precisely the key competencies required to succeed in the job
  • They are rigorous in their selection of sales talent
  • They have a formal, robust, and well administered new hire training program

Develop and Retain

  • They coach their sales people regularly
  • They set clear goals and KPI’s
  • They mobilize and motivate the team

It really is quite simple as we view it strategically, from 30,000 feet.  Basic common sense actually. The trouble is, as a sales executive you also focus on marketing integration, customer service, client escalations, strategic planning, trade shows, and competitive positioning, among other issues.

Sales leadership is simplified if we do these critical 2 areas well;

Find and Obtain  and Develop and Retain  which are directly related to the recruitment, selection and on boarding of newly hired sales personnel.

  • It begins before we hire someone, when we carefully create the job description and identify the critical components of the job, along with the competencies required to excel. Make sure you have a way to determine if the candidate’s values align with your company’s.
  • It continues with the interview and screening process, in which you attempt to identify the candidate’s match to your criteria, using well conceived behavioral based interview questions. Being the savvy interviewer you insure that you are asking the questions and the candidate is doing most of the talking
  • You and your colleagues then share perspectives on the candidates. Probably another round of interviews follows. You followed up with their references and extend an offer.
  • They show up for work on their first day computer, phone, and all necessary passwords are in place.
  • The employee meets with HR, does paperwork, is assigned their  mentor and given their three to six month on-boarding training plan, in which every required training is outlined week over week including timelines, milestones and testing.
  • In addition to training, tactical objectives are established and the employee will be expected to slowly ramp up to the requisite quota.
  • It is expected that the salesperson will be able to achieve 100% of their objective once the new hire training is completed.
  • Respective trainer is identified, weekly coaching with hiring manager is established and individual is introduced to all team members and colleagues.
  • Newly hired employee is 100% accountable to complete their scheduled training.
  • Weekly coaching by manager commences (2 hours weekly)

Looks great, and the candidate DID say that they had sales experience.  So what could possibly go wrong?

Six months later…

  • Initial training is completed
  • Sales rep is at 45% of quota with no noticeable improvement in site
  • Customers seem to really like our sales rep
  • The company is struggling because this sales rep is a third of our entire sales force

Conclusion:  the sales person could not sell

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