How to Assess if You’ve Made Your Talent a Competitive Advantage

How to Assess if You’ve Made Your Talent a Competitive Advantage

Categories: Talent Management

You monitor rep performance, but what processes have you put in place to build “B” sellers into “A”s and retain your highest performing people? Do you hire what you think are top performers, only to see that they aren’t worth their cost in the long run? 

As a sales leader, you cannot underestimate the importance of owning your sales talent process. Don’t make the mistake of relying solely on human resources to navigate the recruiting process for new sellers, especially when you have the opportunity to make your sales talent a competitive advantage in your market. Regular evaluation of your talent (and the tools you’re providing them with) are critical to successfully managing and growing revenue year after year. 

The pandemic is likely creating new challenges for your sales organization. Have you assessed how that's impacting your talent process? Assess your people so you can support them where it matters most — in the numbers. Use these questions to determine potential areas where you can improve your sales talent management process. 

Why have you potentially hired the wrong people in the past?

All too often, sales leaders believe because someone has a history of being a top seller in one organization that they’ll be a top seller in a new organization as well. This belief is a common misconception, and costly one when you consider the expense of hiring an “A” seller, and the territory momentum that will be lost when you don’t get the return on your hiring investment. When hiring for growth, some sales leaders struggle to find the right balance between industry experience and sellers with great track records. John Kaplan has a great analogy for this balance, called "hunters and zoologists". He uses this analogy to show sales leaders the important traits to consider when hiring for growth in your sales organization. 

How can a success profile help your sales organization make the right hires? 

Sales organizations that make their talent a revenue-driving competitive advantage use success profiles to hire and coach against. 

A success profile defines "what good looks like" in each specific sales role within a specific company. Each company has their own definition of success. What drives success in a sales role at one company may be totally different than what drives success at another company. When it comes to hiring a sales talent, your team needs to balance each candidate's past experience with your company's definition of success, by role. 

Without a success profile, it’s hard to pinpoint why certain salespeople perform well, and replicate that behavior across the sales organization. There are two key components of a success profile: 

  1. Competencies: the attributes of success in a particular sales role
  2. Success behaviors: those attributes in action

To identify the reliable indicators of success at your company, the best thing you can do is look within your own organization and highlight the bright spots. Really dig into the attributes those people have and ask yourself, “what do those attributes look like in action?” Then build out a profile of the competencies and behaviors that can serve as predictors of success at your company. Don’t get tempted by “all-stars” who don’t fit your profile. Just remember, sometimes the “best talent available” isn’t always the best for you. Resist the urge to roll the dice. Instead, stay true to your profile.

Great success profiles help to drive accountability and improve your organization’s ability to manage performance. Salespeople achieve positive outcomes when they know: 

  • Specifically what they need to do to be successful in their role and in the organization 
  • Are equipped with how to complete those behaviors

Defined success profiles also support managers in easily identifying weak spots and areas where they can coach sellers on the skills needed to become top performers.

How are managers and salespeople held accountable for results?

Your talent management process has to create consistency around organizational standards and procedures. Your mid-level and front-line managers will be critical in driving those processes. How your talent process supports your managers in improving execution, coaching repeatable high-value skills and driving accountability will be crucial to hitting your numbers this sales cycle and this year. 

Equip your managers to drive accountability and consistent execution of methodologies and processes. Front-line managers can make a consistent and positive impact on the pipeline when they’re able to meet sellers where they are and get sellers to see them as a valuable resource, instead of a compliance checker.

Make your sales managers valuable coaches by:

  • Coaching your coaches. Your managers have to be bought-in on the way of running the business and capable of coaching the how behind key sales skills, methodologies and processes
  • Implement a management cadence that creates a consistent and genuine process around regular deal, account and territory reviews. A coaching cadence makes it easier and more common-place for reps to leverage support from their managers. It also supports managers by giving them time to focus on driving consistent execution, accountability and skill improvements from their salespeople
  • Provide on-demand coaching and deal monitoring where your sales teams work everyday, in their CRM. See how our Opportunity Manager Salesforce integration can help your managers support their sellers in regular deal review and coaching sessions

Why would someone want to work in your organization?

Think about how confident your salespeople feel in their role, the sales organization and the company as a whole. With 2020 being the year it was, it will be crucial to stay checked in with your sales team. Do your reps and managers feel supported, heading into another year of virtual selling? Or are they already looking to jump ship, leaving you in a tough spot right at the beginning of the year or quarter?

Whether or not you’re launching new initiatives, ensure your people understand that you have a plan to help them succeed this quarter and this year. Assess if they are confident in where your sales organization is headed or if they’re already worried they’re on a sinking ship. Right now, communication is a critical component to assessing where your sales team stands.

In a murky sales environment, your salespeople want to know the plan for how they’ll be supported in hitting their numbers. If your salespeople aren’t aware how they'll be supported and don’t believe they're in a sales organization that’s staged for growth, they’ll leave what they perceive as a sinking ship. In any company, the best leaders are often the people who provide clarity. Ensure your sales team knows what it takes to be successful in your company, the steps they need to accomplish that success and the plan for the company to further develop its people (and its position in the market). 

Keep what’s working. Fix what isn’t.

The right investment in talent management can help you build the right team to scale for growth. As a sales leader, you own the responsibility of making your talent a competitive advantage. 

For those of you who’ve been around long enough, you know it can be difficult to define and align on the right sales initiative that your people need to improve execution and scale success. If you’re working to define the right next step for your sales organization, but unsure what initiative to launch to support your team’s ability to hit their numbers this year, take our Rapid Sales Assessment

Define what’s working and what’s keeping your sales organization from executing against their numbers. Take the assessment and get a full outline of what you can implement to hit this year’s benchmarks and accelerate sales success.

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