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The Fastest Way To Fix Sales Performance

by David Brock on September 5th, 2019

Hundreds of pundits, thousands of articles, hundreds of books, hundreds/thousands of sales/marketing automation suppliers purport to have their miracle cures to fixing sales performance.

Somehow the miracle cures seem to be:

  • “Just train your people to do these 3 things….”
  • “Do this one thing…..”
  • “Implement this new technology….”
  • “You just need to prospect….”
  • …..and on and on and on…..

Don’t get me wrong, many of these things are important and can contribute in big ways to improving sales performance. My own company, helps our clients in many of these areas, whether it’s new processes, methodologies, restructuring, better articulating value.

Any of these take time, and there are the challenges of getting people to actually execute on these things.

But there is one area that costs us millions a year, that can drive huge leaps in performance.

Drum roll……….

It’s focusing on talent, creating a culture where people want to work and where people are valued.

I’ve become a broken record on this issue, citing the data on declining sales/management tenure. In the past 5 years, average tenure has decreased from around 3 years to 16.5 months! Gallup data shows employee engagement (not exclusively sales) at the lowest levels ever.

We (management) have a crisis of talent/culture/values. If we can’t attract/recruit, onboard, coach/develop/grow, and retain people, all the investments in new training, new programs, new technology, new methodology, new processes, new anything are wasted. The people we put them in place for, never had the chance to master them–at least in our own companies.

Too many managers/leaders claim, “This is just the way today’s workforce is,” or “It’s a millennial issue.”

Alternatively, there are those leaders, that despite what their web sites say, really don’t value people. They view people as replaceable widgets. Objects to be used as long as they do what they are told, then replaced, when they don’t produce the desired results.

Frankly, I believe these are excuses or simply bad leadership. While there are too few, there are companies that truly value talent and create cultures where people want to work, contribute and where they can grow. They do these things, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but it produces stunning business results!

One of my favorite clients is, by far, the market leader in their space, has average attrition (voluntary, involuntary) of about 3%. They recruit the right people, develop them, grow them, and retain them. They reap the benefits of skyrocketing sales performance across virtually any metric one would want: Reps making quota, growth, revenue attainment, customer retention/growth, margin, and so forth.

This issue is, perhaps, the most important issues, sales and business executives must face in the coming years–if they want to grow, respond to the changes in markets, gain share with their customers.

None of our other initiatives, while important, will ever achieve full impact until we begin to create organizations where people want to work, and we fill those organizations with the people/talent that enable us to perform.

Some might argue whether this is the fastest way to do this–perhaps the title of this article is a little click-baity. But I stand firm on this being the fastest way to drive sustainable performance improvements, simply because nothing else we do can be sustainable without this.

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2 Comments
  1. Spot on Dave. I too am a broken record on this topic. Hire the best people. Get the best out of them. protect them from the stupidity of your senior management and provide them with the resources they need to do their job well every day

  2. Rich Scorza permalink

    David, Feeling this still misses the issue. Hiring the best is just too easy to fall back on and is always rear view stuff.

    He/she worked out – I hired the best. He /she did not work out I hired less than the best.

    The reduction in tenure has little to do with hiring and everything to do with how managers understand (or more to the point don’t understand) how sales has changed in the past 12 months. Typically Managers and above have not sold in 1, 2, 5 years? so their ability to coach and train less experienced employees is limited. (First do no harm comes to mind)

    And who get’s the ax, or ends up leaving early because expectations from financial rewards are not met, the employee. I see this all the time.

    More to the point – good hires gone bad… 🙂

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