There’s a common belief amongst those who hire sales professionals that past success predicts future success. Its not wrong. At the same time, its not all that right either. A corollary might be from Don Shula, coach of the ’72 Miami Dolphins, the NFL’s only team ever with a perfect record for the season and playoffs.
Shula would say that practice does *not* make perfect. Rather he would be inclined to say “Perfect Practice Makes Perfect! “
What gets missed by many when they hire is the notion of success under similar conditions. If you we’re raised selling into a boom market, and have plenty of success to show for it, there is no doubt you have the drive for success. Yet you may not have the necessary skill to overcome the considerable resistance most sales people encounter in today’s generally down market.
The amendment needed to the past predicts future aphorism is that past success under similar market conditions predicts future success in comparable market conditions.
Other conditions matter. For sales people with considerable success with big brands, selling success with lesser knowns is not as likely. Sales people with success selling to Small-Medium-Co often struggle with the timing and cadence of BigCo or MegaCorp.
All salary sales people tend to flounder when they enter the land of all or mostly commissioned based sales. Not all, just most of them.
When the experience has been margin rich and market share is all important, selling for essential profit margin will be tough since discounting for closing is not available in most cases.
Thee are many more examples available where the definition matters considerably, and they can include Sales Culture (not company culture), Ticket Size, Pressure, Management Style, Length of Sales Cycle, and others.
Its not that owners and Front Line Managers (FLM) can’t select, they generally just do not know how to define an excellent fit, other than an OK-Fit.
This is what makes it scary when a recruiter tells you “I provide the people they ask for”. And they do.
Domain expertise counts, but after 9 months those with it are 1% better than those without it. Not much considering the negative impact on candidate pool size.
As in my first posting on the Business Owners are like Front Line Sales Managers, here are 5 sales effectiveness drivers to focus on.
Define what you need in terms of people, roles, structure, territories and more. No definition, no chance of success – its your blueprint for success.
Build the team you need through recruiting, training, coaching, and leading them in the right direction. Shape the Sales Culture you need by emphasizing key qualities a sales culture must have based on internal and external drivers.
Enable the team using informational supports, typically in the form of Customer Research, Social Media software, sales process optimized CRM software (most isn’t), and powerful Ideal Customer Profile definitions.
Motivate the team using deep understanding of your sale people’s personal goals, company goals, and the Customer’s goals. If you don’t know what they are, you’ll have a tough time leading your team towards them. Goals should not ignore financial compensation, yet must not prioritize greed and selfishness as the path to success.
Control and Accountability are typically the least fun of any business owner’s or FLM’s day in the life. Expect what you Inspect meaning you must set targets and hold people accountable to meet them. Most people really do want to do good works each and every day, some do not. Even for those who do, holding people accountable for achievement shows them what matters and is important.