A performance condition problem means you have a major flaw or flaws in your sales environment. Perhaps you don’t know your ideal customer. Maybe there are no leads for the sales force and no customized sales process mapped to the buying process. You might set unrealistic quotas and not have a compensation plan that incents the right behavior. Sales Management may lack a customized coaching and development program. Your organization may not be providing reinforced sales training for new skills.
A talent problem means you have the wrong people. You have a cutting edge product or service with plenty of qualified leads. You have bucketed your different ideal customers, optimized territories and supported your team with a lucrative incentive compensation plan. But, you have the wrong players. The best performance conditions in the world will not hide a talent problem in a sales force.
One is not easier to solve than the other. But, half the battle is defining the problem correctly.
For today’s example, we are going to assume you have a talent problem. You and your management team do not have enough ‘A’ players (defined as those performing in the top 10% for the compensation available). Below are 5 simple statements to help you. Rate yourself and your sales leadership team. After each statement, answer Yes or No. If you want to make the most of this exercise, start your next sales management meeting with this test; it will take some courage but that’s what separates great from average
1. Talent Definition—We know and have published the behavioral competencies of the future ‘A’ player are we looking for
2. Talent Acquisition—We know the best sources to find these ‘A’ players and track our sourcing efficiency.
3. Talent Evaluation –We have a disciplined interview process to ensure we validate the appearance of these competencies with structured questions
4. Talent Selection –We have a disciplined process to check references and walk through the offer letter. (Including preparation that their current employer will try and keep them)
5. Talent Development—We have a detailed new hire onboarding plan to get reps to their full productivity and detailed individual development plans for ongoing improvement.
Call to Action—If you answered yes 4 or 5 times, you dont have a talent management problem. Could you improve? Sure. However, your revenue shortfall is more related to performance conditions. If you answered yes 3 times or less, I suggest you examine your Talent Management process. You are far from best in class.
Are you committing this sin? Review your sales force through two lenses of performance conditions and talent. This will give you clarity. The output of this clarity may be that targeted, specific sales training or talent management training will be an answer to your revenue question.