Be sure to develop a clear set of job expectations. Then evaluate your salespeople and candidates against those expectations.
Put SuperBowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson on the offensive line and he will fail. In fact, you would likely see him fired from the team – and for good reason. The assumption? He’s not a good football player. That conclusion couldn’t be farther from the truth. In a word, the problem is alignment.
Great player + Wrong role = Bad outcomes
In sales, as in football, all roles are not the same. A superstar performer in one role may be merely average, or worse, in another. Organizations often assume that someone who has been successful in inside sales, for example, will be just as successful in an outside sales role. They won’t.
And companies lose enormous revenue believing that they will. A thorough analysis of both the role and the salesperson must be completed before you can accurately predict how someone will perform. There must be alignment.
Here are 4 key points to guide you:
1. Evaluate the structure of the role.
Examine not only the deliverables, but also the activities necessary to achieve success in the position.
- Does the role require prospecting?
- How much Travel is required?
- Does it have non-routine schedule?
- Is it geared for short, simple sales or a lengthy, complex sales process?
- Is it primarily for new customer acquisition or managing existing business?
Depending on which of these items the role requires creates a set of unique conditions that not all salespeople are capable of fulfilling.
2. Evaluate the salesperson’s attributes.
One attribute that needs to be defined and evaluated is motivation.
- Do they really want to be in this role?
- Does the role reward what they desire?
- If motivational alignment does exist, is there a behavioral conflict?
A typical extrovert wants to be out meeting people with high face-to-face contact. Putting them in a cubicle on a headset – some can lose motivation quickly.
An introvert who prefers farming and cultivating existing relationships can excel at retaining existing customers. To add cold calling to the role, however, can derail their performance.
3. Evaluate the salesperson’s skills.
The skill set of an inside sales rep differ from those of an outside sales rep or a major account rep. Find out your candidate or incumbents level of selling skills.
- Do they know how to generate leads on their own?
- What are their preferred prospecting methodologies?
- Can they qualify?
- Do they now how to develop good questions to ask the buyer?
- How well do they present a solution?
- What level of negotiation skills do they have?
- What is their primary method for closing sales?
Your candidate or incumbent may have the capacity to do the job, but if you don’t train them in their new role, you may discover that inadequate qualifying is preventing them from achieving their sales goal.
4. Evaluate the compensation plan.
A sales rep’s compensation plan must align with the effort required to meet quota. If not, the energy invested by the sales rep to acquire or retain customers may be more than their income. Over time, that demotivates them and performance suffers.
Likewise, if your comp plan is straight commission, be sure to allow for sufficient ramp up time for rookies or reps that move from other roles to develop a customer base. If not, your reps will starve and you’ll fail to gain traction in that market or territory.
Successful sales leaders ensure strong alignment exists between the skills and attributes of their sales reps and the sales role’s compensation plan and expectations. Take the time to follow these four critical points and your sales team can make a Super Bowl appearance too.