While recently on a flight to Philadelphia, I noticed an advertisement in an airline magazine. The advertisement claimed to be able to “put your sales into overdrive” by using new marketing technology that allows a salesperson to use a tablet PC for sales presentations. I asked myself, "Will this gadget truly help sales people become more effective?" Marketing folks would say "probably" but only if the product or service has desirable features that appeal to the masses. If that was the case, businesses wouldn't need sales people to sell –the product would sell itself. But what if you are selling something that does need a business development manager's expertise? Then this new marketing tool now becomes a lot less intriguing.
At the end of the day your buyers (especially in business-to-business sales) are not impressed with flashy presentations, but rather they are trying to ensure that what you are selling matches an organizational need. To achieve success, businesses need a competent sales team that will be able to overcome objections and create value for the potential customer. So what types of sales people are the best at doing this? Research is clear that there are a handful of traits that differentiate between a successful salesperson and one that is average at best. Some of these factors include:
1. Work ethic/conscientiousness
3. Problem solving/critical thinking
So we have a good idea of what makes someone successful in sales. But what about those employees who are struggling to meet quotas? Answering this requires you to figure out the relative strengths and weaknesses of your current sales team.
Two data points should be collected:
1) Performance Data & Supervisor Evaluations
2) Personality and Cognitive Ability Assessment Data
The first is fairly straightforward and most organizations already collect this data on an annual basis. The second, assessment data, is a bit trickier for most organizations. However, leveraging a good sales assessment can help you better understand why your sales team is underperforming and help you to identify some training needs.
Additionally it can also be helpful to look at group-level assessment data to get a snapshot of what is going on across the sales team (e.g., by region). This can help to determine where you should be allocating training dollars to get the biggest bang for your buck.
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