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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Talent is Not Enough for Sales Performance


It’s not enough to just have talent. You have to practice and use your talents in order to improve and make a positive impact on the people around you.

Professional athletes spend countless hours practicing and training in order to improve their performance. What if you could spend more time on your talents?

One of my favorite ways to help managers turn their talent into performance is through our executive coaching program, Talent Insight.

During this program, I get the chance to help sales managers identify their unique talents, better understand how their talents are coming across to others, and determine action steps they can take to use their strengths and improve their performance.

Know Your Talent Must-Haves

Identify Your Team's Strengths

How do we gain the insight to build these action steps?

We start by assessing the manager’s innate strengths using a validated talent instrument. With a clear understanding of their innate abilities, our next step is to understand whether they are reaching their potential in those areas.

Where are they maximizing their strengths and where do they have room to grow? We learn this by surveying their direct reports using the Talent Insight instrument which is built to compare their potential to the behaviors perceived by those they coach.

In every case, we are able to identify areas of talent that the manager has not yet maximized which gives them a golden opportunity to grow in their role, develop those they manage, and positively impact business performance. 

With this insight, we provide hands-on coaching and a clear growth plan.  We allow the manager enough time to make a positive impact, and then we conduct another survey to measure their growth and their team’s perceptions in areas of their strengths. 

It is incredibly exciting to coach someone to use their strengths and watch how they grow in their role!

How to Manage Individual Talents and Improve Sales Performance

Build Your Team's Strengths

We have conducted enough of these programs to learn this powerful fact:  when an individual focuses on using their strengths and maximizing their talent, they grow. If they take their strengths for granted and fail to use them in the work actively, they don’t grow.

Bottom line — like anything else, if you want to grow, you have to practice.

I helped coach two managers who had very different styles, personalities, talents, and goals. One manager was extremely talented across the board. The other manager had a couple of intense talents but overall had a lower level of talent than the first manager.

If you’re like me, you probably think that the more talented manager grew their strengths and their results much more than the less talented manager. That is not what happened. Here’s why.

The highly talented manager did not spend much time using his talents. He admittedly did not practice or commit to the strategies that would help him improve his performance. He was too “busy” and was not able to follow through on his action steps.

The less talented manager worked extremely hard, got to know the talents of her team, and focused on using her talents every week. Because of this, the less talented manager experienced much more growth. Remember, while she was less talented, she had enough talent to be successful in the role. And with a highly-focused plan to grow that talent, she saw results.

Just like an athlete, a musician, or a dancer, you have to work at it and practice in order to see real growth in an area of strength.

When you do, you will increase your performance, and if you are managing a sales team, you will increase the productivity and performance of your team. Considering your own talents, what could you make a commitment to doing in order to grow your business or grow an individual in the next four weeks? 

Talent Insight

*Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in 2018 and has since been updated.