While the economy has shown general improvement the last few years, most of the clients I work with remain in a difficult business climate. The job of sales management is much tougher than before the recent recession. Their sales engine needs to be firing on all cylinders if there’s any hope of exceeding goals.
While helping several clients work through some tough problems, a powerful truth occurred to me:
Talent doesn’t fix every problem, but you can’t fix any problem without the right talent.
I was with one particular client for a few days, meeting with various managers and hearing about their problems, one after another. Each time, I probed for more information, asking for specific data, drilling down, so I could provide useful insight. One issue stood out every time: The organization was expecting outstanding sales numbers from someone who didn’t have sales talent.
You can have a great product to sell and the right prospects to talk to, but if the salesperson on the account doesn't have the talent needed for success, there isn't going to be a good outcome. In these situations, there was very little in the way of useful advice I could give, other than replace the salesperson.
I encountered other problems—ones not related to talent—during my consulting days there. In one case, it was a problem of unclear expectations. In another case, it was a poor approach to developing strong leads. I found it fairly easy to make specific recommendations in these situations—because the salesperson and the sales manager both had the talent required.
When the talent is the problem, replacing the talent is the only solution. When the talent is right, problems were easier to fix. Not necessarily easy, but easier.
New Hires Make a Difference
Another client had a similar problem: the wrong people in sales positions. In 2009, they had each of their employees go through our talent assessment process. As you can see in the graph above, their answers in 2009 were much closer to the low-performer benchmark in every category.
This client knew something had to change, and over the course of the next four years they made significant upgrades to their talent, including the most important upgrade: they replaced a manager who wasn’t holding salespeople accountable.
Once they got the right talent in place, they were able to turn that talent into performance. You can see how close their 2013 answers are to our research-driven, top-performer benchmark. Naturally, their revenue performance in 2013 was far better than what they produced back in 2009.
Do you have the right talent? Do you know the questions you should ask to make sure you’re hiring the right talent? Download our free checklist: The Most Effective Interview Questions for Hiring Salespeople and hire the right fit for your team.