Can Your Sales Talent Execute Like Olympic Athletes?

August 2, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Is the team good enough?

sales talentSomewhere an executive just read the title of this article on his smartphone.  Now he is shaking his head in frustration.  How should he even begin to think about his Sales Talent and how it relates to his overall Talent Management strategy?  Learn more about how to frame the discussion and ask the right questions by contacting us about our newly-released research report.  It’s called Make The Number: How Your Peers Are Allocating People, Money, and Time in 2013.  You can learn more right now by clicking here.

The executive closes his web browser and puts the phone away.  He wonders if he has a problem.  The sales managers tell him the team is improving, and he still has a shot at making this year’s revenue goal (if the forecast is correct).  But he still wonders “are we good enough?”  The comparison to Olympic athletes leaves him worried and slightly insecure.  He knows he has “C” players in the organization.  Where are the “C” players at the Olympics?

If this story sounds familiar, you are not alone.  Savvy executives are well aware that their real competitor is the status quo.  Worse, most don’t know where to even begin the task of evaluating their athletes.   They worry how disruptive it will be.  Will evaluating existing Sales Talent cause the team to lose focus on making the number?  What about the hiring process?  Should they start there and hold off on improving the existing team for later?  Are there weaknesses in the current hiring process?  It sure seems like some rotten eggs are getting through…

Let’s return to the Olympians.  What if we could select Sales Talent who were more like them?  Olympians are the output of a perfectly executed training regimen, full of drive, discipline, and the will to win.  Meanwhile, your performance-based turnover is 30%.  Here are three reasons executives fail at the task:

  • HR gets in the way.  When was the last time you really scrutinized the form your managers complete to give an existing rep an annual review?  It is full of qualitative information, ranking the rep on “being a team player” and “drive to succeed.”  How does this make your Sales Talent better?  The mere fact that it gets hauled out of the drawer once every 12 months should render it worthless.  This is compliance at its worst.
  • The Online Assessment for New Hires.  Here’s a tool that is gaining in popularity.  Unfortunately, it’s popular mostly because it’s easy and cheap.  Simple question: do you believe I could understand your “behavioral tendencies” by giving you a 15 minute computer quiz?  I didn’t think so.
  • Where to Start.  Even strong executives are brought to a halt by this question.  Improving your Sales Talent is the ultimate “Important, but not Urgent” task.  The team will still be there next week, and meanwhile there are matters that require attention today.  I will tell you that you can burn a year by thinking this way.  Do you have a year to spare?  Neither do I.

What can you do right now? 

  • For your hiring process:

    Review this brief slideshow to gain a basic understanding of the Top Grading interview process.  This process allows you to dramatically upgrade the talent entering the organization.  You can see it here. 
  • For your existing reps:

    Before you decide that you might not have a problem with the current team, download our Sales Rep Competency Chart.  This tool, when customized for your company, defines the specific critical competencies deemed necessary to succeed in a sales role, and ranks your sales reps against them.  As an added bonus, it also serves as a roadmap to create a customized plan.  This plan works just like the Olympian’s training schedule, assisting you as you strive to help your sales athlete reach their full potential and beat the competition.

The best Sales Talent are individuals selected from the masses, just like Olympians.  They possess a combination of innate ability and learned competencies.  They compete with focus and discipline.  They want to win.  There is no reason your Sales Talent can’t be as good as Olympic athletes.

If you still have a question about how to take action, or how to understand the opportunity cost, please comment below.  You can also sign up to learn more about the output of our Sales Talent research at www.MakingTheNumber.com.

 Talent Management

Mark Synek on Google+

Mark Synek

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Topics: Talent Management, Sales Leader, VP of Sales Resources

Posted by Mark Synek

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