Every so often a Sales Ops leader needs a gut check. We typically focus on optimizing processes that will drive revenue. Automation and technology makes tracking and adopting initiatives easier. But Year over Year growth is stagnant. Nothing we do from our office is making an impact. It might be time to assess the skills of your sales team. As a resource, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. Review the latest talent approach in the sales strategy section under people plan phase on pages 285 – 293.
Why is this a problem? Relying on the heroic efforts of a few eventually catches up with you. When 20% of the sales team produces 80% of the revenue, something is wrong. The labor expense associated with the sales team incurred by the company has to be justified, or a head count reduction is warranted. Tolerating underperformers, hiring mistakes, and very long new hire productivity cycles all lead to missed revenue targets — and job loss for the head of sales.
A team of B players is not uncommon, and not a death sentence. Typically 60-80% of a team falls into the B player profile. Training and Enablement can give these B players the tools necessary to improve. C players, on the other hand, will need to be managed out. There are 3 main reasons C players must go:
1) Opportunity Cost: Managers spend high value hours working with under-performers. Time could be spent exponentially growing top performers pipeline.
2) Return on Investment: Of course, a C player is more likely to hurt your margin. In addition to their own compensation, customer acquisition costs eat at your profit.
3) Work Environment: Your sales force must be an attractive destination for top talent. A players want to work with A players, not C players.
Your sales team may or may not have a talent gap. Administering 45 minute Sales Competency Assessment Tool to your team members can help you decide. The assessment offers an interview guide for 10 potential competencies.
A few things to note about these assessments:
1) Measurable: Transparency and clarity are integral to Sales Operations. You must be able to give an objective assessment of your team. These assessments are created to measure a team’s performance. With objective scoring across multiple competencies, you can thoroughly assess your team. When questioned for evidence to support your analysis, the data is readily accessible. Quantifying a rep’s ability to execute will help the executive team make decisions.
2) Manageable: These Sales Competency Assessments were created for a busy sales force. Sales Managers can easily administer and track results. These results can be aggregated across regions and countries. Once analyzed, gaps in capabilities, at the individual and team level, can be identified. In areas where an individual needs to grow, IDPs can be created. In areas where a group is under-performing, Sales Ops can build support vehicles. Within months, assessments can be executed and a roadmap to fill talent gaps created.
3) Modern: This Sales Assessment tests for modern selling competencies. The modern approach has many hold overs from days gone by. Managing Activity and Opportunity Management are tried and true. Content Creation and Social Reach are skills that were not necessary even 5 years ago. Today’s seller must be more agile and more mobile. Those who are not top performers in these areas will see revenue shortfalls. This does not mean they are C players. Simply, they need to acquire a new capability. Not having these skills next year will make them irrelevant. Having both traditional and modern capabilities is a must for the team.
The success of a sales initiative is equal parts process and people. As you build a world class sales process, keep the users in mind. What skills and competencies will be necessary for them to execute the sales strategy? Where does the talent currently rank and what is the potential improvement? Beginning with an assessment of the sales force will help to set expectations.
Download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017 to learn how your peers are upgrading talent. The workbook outlines a comprehensive approach to building a world class talent program in the people plan phase on pages 285 – 293. If you would like to spend some time with me on this subject, come see me in Dallas at The Studio, SBI’s multimillion dollar, one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art executive briefing center. A visit to The Studio increases the probability of making your number because the sessions are built on the proven strength and stability of SBI, the industry leader in B2B sales and marketing.