In a study of 1000+ companies the results of which were published by HBR 85% of managers said that sales people did not meet their expectations, furthermore 80% have high turnover in sales departments. 90% of these companies said they needed more sales and guess what 99% said they wanted more sales.
There is a well-quoted saying that 20% of your sales force produces 80% of your sales. This conclusion comes from a book written a number of years ago called “How to Hire and Develop Your Next Top Performer” written by an American academic and a business consultant. This oft repeated sound bite however is only part of the conclusion that the research for this book came to and it misses the important information. We all know the symptom but what is the cause??
The research also showed that 55% of the people they looked at should never have been employed in a sales role in the first place and that 25% were selling the wrong product or service! It never fails to amaze us that employers will put people in place and spend significant sums of money training people who fundamentally are not wired up to be salesmen in the first place. In sales particularly employers resolutely stand by what we call the 4 Great Employment myths:-
- 1. “You can be anything you want to be”
- 2. “If you work hard enough you can succeed”
- 3. “There is nothing you can’t achieve”
- 4. “If I can do it then you can do it”
It’s no good blaming the trainer or the salesman for not learning, if the wrong person is being trained then both are wasting their time….and your money. It doesn’t matter how good the training is you are not going to turn me in to an Olympic high jumper, I don’t have the basic equipment!!
Consider the costs of all this, substantial sums paid to new salesmen as salary, advances on commission, expense accounts, cars, all wasted when salesmen fail to sell. Add to that the company costs of wasted time, money and energy on recruiting, selecting training and supervising people who inherently do not have the ability to sell. We can go on, lost sales, reduced company reputation, poor morale, and permanently ‘burned’ opportunity…. Pick a number and add a few noughts!
Commonly employers will use invalid criteria to hire:-
- · Hiring in your own image “what we need is another me”!
- · Pirating from your competitors
- · Hiring based on experience (20 years experience in the business…. All of it bad!)
- · Hiring based on qualifications
Add these to the ‘Employment myths’ and you can see how it happens but how can we save money and eliminate the frustration of getting people to sell when they can’t possibly succeed?
The answer is to hire with your head and get real powerful information about candidates that will allow you to select the right behavioural traits. Not just ‘Can they do it but - Will they do it’ and will the sales role fulfil what the psychologists call the ‘fundamental life interests’ of your candidate. If it does they are likely to be happy successful and stay with you.
In our own process we use a sophisticated and very effective psychometric assessment called The Profile XT which measures just these traits and we show clients how to use these themselves with as much or as little input from us as they want. Whether your sales force is directly employed or works purely on commission the costs involved in not developing processes to recruit retain and develop the very best just don’t bear thinking about!