Monday, September 13, 2010

Most of your sales team suck at their job.

If your sales team runs true to form, about 20-30% of them produce about 70-80% of the revenue.
It’s one of the things that we tend to take for granted. We know that if they don’t perform in a given timeframe, we can present them with the hard evidence and march in the next contender.
I sometimes smile when other professions talk about negotiating their KPI’s. It doesn’t get much cleaner than the sales KPI.
Some companies have a standard practice of “releasing” the lowest 10% of performers knowing that, over time, they will end up with the best “over” performers. Why over performers? Eventually all of them will be exceeding target which means that even though you have let go 10% of your sales team who over achieved, the remaining 90% are performing so well that you hardly feel it. And the practice acts as a prod to the rest of the team.
There is another way of getting 90% of your team over achieving their targets.
You need to train them and coach them to perform at their full potential. Sounds simple, but the problem is that all of us have different skills and aptitudes. Good HR departments started using psychometric testing decades ago. However, it is hard to apply these to a sales profile.
Over recent years a number of sales ability specific tests have been developed that assess a sales person specifically for the job, or role you wanted them to do.
One of the tests is called Fit-4 from

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Are you the Rainmaker in your small or medium business?

A "Rainmaker" is someone who brings in the big deals.

This is really addressed at the owners of small or medium businesses who have worked hard to build their company but just can't seem to grow beyond a particular limit. I've noticed it more over the last few years.

Often, the person who started the company best understands the product and where it fits in the market.
Usually they, the company, has matured enough to put together a business plan for growth and have often designed their systems to scale to handle the increased volumes. It just that for some reason, no one seems to be able to sell their product or service quite as well as the owner.

Standing on the outside, it became obvious to me that there are three main reasons that this occurs:
  1. The sales person does not have the authority to make the call. This allows the owner to always be the rainmaker.
  2. The owner hired someone who understand the technology or complexity but does not how to sell. This person is often best at after sales support. This allows the owner to step back in and be the rainmaker.
  3. The owner hired sales people who cannot sell, or has them in a structure that cannot scale, which often amounts to the same thing. So, in an attempt to grow, the owner steps back into the rainmaker role.
I'd love to hear of similar observations.