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Selecting Your Next Sales Superstar

Todd Harris, Ph.D. PI Worldwide & The University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Today’s Roadmap
    Key Facets of the Modern Sales Environment Some Important Statistics Research-Based Sales Selection Mistakes to Avoid


The Modern Sales Environment
        Ditch the Pitch Products, Solutions, or Strategic Partnerships? Heightened Expectations, but an Inability to Meet Them Increased Competition Rampant Commoditization Limited Sales and Marketing Alignment More Product Offerings and Complexity The March of Technology


Did You Know?
 In 2008, 58% of all sales representatives made their numbers, with average plan attainment being 85%.  Despite this, 86% of firms indicated that they were raising sales quotas for 2009, with 40% of firms surveyed raising revenue targets between 1% - 10%.  70% of companies reported that it takes six months or longer to ramp a new sales representative up to full productivity.
 Source: 2009 CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Benchmark Study


The Current Hiring & Retention Picture
 A trend toward hiring sales representatives with industry experience is increasing.  Only four in ten firms systematically assess sales candidate competencies, but of these firms, only 5% felt that the effort was not worth it.  46% of firms surveyed felt that their ability to “hire the right sales reps” needed improvement, but only 11% of these firms were planning to alter their sales representative hiring process.  Annual sales representative turnover rates average approximately 30%.
 Source: 2009 CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Benchmark Study


The Answer: Over 15,000


The Question: How many open sales jobs are currently posted on Over 3,000 new sales jobs have been posted in the last two days. Roughly one-third of all jobs posted on Monster are sales-related.


A High-Pressure Environment
“An open sales position, especially at a more senior level, costs us thousands of dollars per day. Plus, one of my company’s key HR metrics is position fill-time. So what do we do? Fast, sloppy interviews and hiring too many people who at worst never have a chance and at best do just enough to survive.”
Direct quote from SVP of Sales, Fortune 500 Manufacturing Company


The “Best” versus the “Rest” versus the “Worst”  Research by PI Worldwide, covering over 100 sales organizations across a wide variety of industries and countries, has revealed that the gap between sales representatives who are “top-quartile” revenue producers and the “median” ranges from 50% to 175%.  The disparity between the “top-quartile” and the “bottomquartile” is often more than 300%.


A Framework for Research-Based Sales Selection
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Understand your company’s current sales strategy. Determine what behavior is needed for sales success. Assess current sales talent. Coach where and when feasible. Screen systematically.


Understand Your Company’s Current Sales Strategy  What do you sell?  Who do you sell to?  How do you create value for your customers?


Determine What Behavior is Needed for Sales Success  What knowledge, skills, abilities and others (KSAO’s) are needed to execute the sales strategy?  What separates your “A players” from the rest?  Sales organizations tend to be very metric-driven, but those metrics often focus almost exclusively on:
 Outcomes: Ex: Percent to Goal.  Lead Indicators: Ex: Appointments made.  This type of data is very useful for understanding what happened, but is not as useful for understanding why it happened.


Assess Current Sales Talent  What is your sales organization’s current capacity to deliver against the sales strategy?  Gap analysis.  The “knowing” versus “doing” divide.  Honest and data-driven answers to these questions will accurately steer selection and retention planning and decisions.


Coach Where and When Feasible  Sales training. But are improvements sustainable?  The importance of leadership, coaching, and reinforcement.  You can’t save the world. Where is time best allocated?


Screen Systematically  Use a combination of standardized, legally-defensible instruments.  Examples:
     Qualification screens. Personality assessments. Skills tests. Interviews. Simulations.

 Use consistently and check validity.


The Power of Assessments  Industry: Automobile Dealerships: A one StandardDeviation increase in ASSERTIVENESS level translated into 46 more cars sold over a four-month period (69 versus 23).  Industry: Manufacturing: A one Standard-Deviation increase in PROACTIVITY level translated into a difference of $2 million in sales over a 27-month period ($2,880,981 versus $554,013).


Are You Making Any of the Following Mistakes? Hiring to an out-dated sales strategy. Hiring sales representatives in your own image. Rushing it. HR/Sales Operations imbalance. No defined process. Defined process, but used inconsistently.


The Fundamental Equation
 Remember, the cost of poor hiring decisions, both in time and money, far outweighs the investments necessary to build the right sales profile and to implement the right assessment process.  This equation always holds true, but especially during challenging economic times, when the gap between the “strong” and the “weak” widens.


Thank you!
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