Written by Dave Christofaro, Director, Sales Talent Optimization
Last week I had a conversation with the SVP of Sales Operations for a multi-billion dollar, global company. They need to hire hundreds of new sales reps over the next 6-9 months as they revamp their sales force. Their market has changed so much over the past 5 years — and it’s going to continue — that they expect upwards of 35-40% attrition. But they’re dealing with a potentially derailing cultural challenge; sales managers are holding onto under-performing reps because they’d rather deal with the certainty of what they have, rather than the uncertainty of trying to hire a replacement rep.
Although the SVP’s comment just doesn’t make good business sense, I understand that hiring talented sales professionals is indeed a daunting task for managers. First, there’s a global shortage (per Manpower’s annual Talent Shortage Survey). Second, sales is such a complex role that the full suite of competencies, attributes and experience is tough to find. And finally, sales people sell themselves well, which make it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. So how does sales leadership conquer this fear of the unknown sales candidate and make better hiring decisions? By obtaining better data and applying Sales Talent Analytics.
First, you need better data. For many companies, data about candidates is based on the results of a personality assessment, plus subjective feedback from unstructured interviews. Personality assessments have their place, but their effectiveness is limited since they typically only account for 3-5% of the variance in performance. The most impactful way to get better data is by using structured behavioral interview guides aligned to sales skills. These skill-focused guides have the greatest impact on improving validity of the hiring process; a 4x increase! Next, reduce the reliance on subjective feedback by gathering objective data on the candidate. Sales knowledge assessments (i.e., situational judgment) are one tool for gathering objective data, by testing an individual’s knowledge of sales best-practices. And of course, historical sales performance data is another form of objective data.
To cut through the complexity of the skill set and pinpoint exactly which 2 or 3 competencies or attributes are most important, apply Sales Talent Analytics. This sales-specific form of analytics will statistically identify the competencies of your top-performers that set them apart from the rest of the team. With this insight, sales leadership can narrow their interview process and tools on what is proven to drive success at their company.
Better data, combined with Sales Talent Analytics, is statistically proven to improve the quality of new sales hires by up to 67%. So rather than fear the unknown sales candidate, leverage the technology of today’s information age to conquer those fears.
To learn more, visit: global.spisales.com/TalentOptimization