The 2018 Sales Talent Study from CSO Insights finds a full 84% of sales leaders don’t think they have the team they need to succeed. Even with these obvious talent issues, sales experts aren’t including all the metrics needed to get the best hires.
Hiring a Sales Team
Seleste Lunsford, Managing Director of CSO Insights, spoke with Small Business Trends to provide some insights on these challenges and what small businesses can do to solve them.
“Managing sales from a talent perspective has always been challenging. It’s hard to find people, predict who will succeed and keep them,” she says.
For Lunsford, fixing the disconnect is about changing and expanding the hiring focus.
She says that despite all the technology available to fill spots on sales teams, hiring managers are still leaning too heavily on traditional benchmarks.
“If someone is making their numbers, they must be good,” she says underlining how that mindset works. This approach doesn’t tell the whole story of what’s at play like if the rep has inherited a ‘sweet’ territory.
The study found other issues with the hiring process . For example, the data reports it takes 4 months to recruit and 9 more months to bring a sales recruit up to full productivity. As well, small businesses rely on their top sales performers without assessing them properly to strengthen the individual and entire team.
Cut a Deeper Swath
Lunsford suggests evaluations need to cut a larger deeper swath. A talent strategy that incorporates science backed profiles including intangibles like grit and determination is part of the answer. Any criteria needs to include markers like education and experience as well, but more personal criteria too .
“With attrition at 16% and average growth at 9%, a sales leader can greatly accelerate transformation within 2 years if hiring and developing the right people in the right way,” she says.
Create Science Backed Profiles
There are new tools looking to fill the gaps. These include online quizzes that measure previously hard to track skills like learning agility and change readiness as well as comfort with technology and perseverance. Velocity Profiling is an example.
Lunsford explains, “Some organizations have started using these personality tests or predictive assessments. These compare one candidate’s results with tens of thousands of other people to find out about a candidate’s personal attributes.”
The data collected doesn’t just help the hiring process. The emerging talent strategies also help established sales staff optimize their skills.
With this added data, sales managers can get a more complete picture of candidates, drawing from a much deeper well than the one they’d get from resumes and interviews. Where small businesses are concerned there are some tailor-made solutions on the market catering to some specific needs.
Make Assessments of Your Sales People
“These have gotten pretty sophisticated, ” Lunsford says. “There are actually assessments out there now that focus just on sales people.”
The way candidates answer the questions provided allows HR managers and others to statistically gauge some of their personality traits. This in turn, helps small businesses to more accurately predict how their teams will react to changes, fluctuations in the market and other variables.
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