Just how good are your salespeople?
One of our clients had a star performer in one of their regions. Year in and year out this salesperson achieved fantastic growth compared to their national average. Where other regions experienced 1-2% growth this region was achieving 4%.
You can imagine their concern when they had to make a change in the region as their star performer was getting promoted. With much trepidation they inserted a new salesperson into the region and you can guess what happened…the region experienced 15% growth! Yes, that’s right. 15% compared to 4%.
This isn’t saying that the former star performer wasn’t doing a good job (regional results outperformed the national average) but it does raise the question of how we are assessing our salespeople. As managers how deep do we go in diagnosing the capability of each salesperson reporting to us? I know I’ve fallen into the trap of looking only at metrics such as:
• Sales results vs. budget
• Sales calls (activity)
• Prospecting calls
All of these are important, and can provide insights, but what else could we be considering? If you’ve ever caught yourself saying things like “If my salespeople could just make more calls they’d have more success” you have to stop and answer the question: “What’s more important, quantity or quality?”
In our experience successful sales organizations have a clearly defined sales process that is widely known, widely shared and widely used. The sales process provides a common language internally and ensures a consistent experience externally. The process also becomes another lens through which we can view our people. How good is each individual salesperson, in each step of the sales process? By assessing our people against our process we as managers can better understand where we can coach our people for development, and where we have to manage our people to reinforce expectations and accountabilities.
In the example above, our client was perplexed by why this performance gap existed, how could they have been missing so much opportunity? After sitting down with the new sales person they discovered the key difference. The new sales person was applying a sales process, being new to sales they had leaned heavily on what they had been taught and they followed the process every time. The simple fundamentals of selling had been the difference in achieving exceptionally better results. Now our client is in the process of ensuring each and every one of their sales people, both new and experienced are well grounded in their sales process.
Mastering each step of the sales process ensures your salespeople, and your organization, will achieve sustained success.
It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you could be!