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Solving the Top 5 Most Difficult Sales Effectiveness Challenges

Aug 7, 2008
Many organizations are faced with the challenge of solving poor sales effectiveness in their workforce. This article will provide you with the Top 5 most difficult sales effectiveness challenges and what you can do to solve them. Whether you're an executive, a manager or a team leader, the following information will be beneficial to you.

Some people hired into sales positions lack the sales personality and the fundamental attributes essential to becoming top performers. In fact, more than 50% of those individuals hired for a given sales position may not even be suited for sales. Another 25% may have selling skills, but are selling the wrong product, are in the wrong industry or do not fit well within their sales team. These factors reduce the number of sales professionals from whom sales leaders can expect superior performance.

The 2004 Miller Heiman Sales Effectiveness Study illustrates activities widely recognized as posing the greatest challenge for sales organizations to achieve. Of the 45 dimensions of sales force effectiveness explored, there is strong consensus among both executive level management and field-level professionals regarding which activities pose the greatest difficulty. The following is a ranking of the top five most difficult sales success related challenges:

- Leveraging potential of performers
- Generating qualified prospects
- Difficulty selling new products and services
- Increasing revenue with fewer people and resources
- Leveraging customer data to drive sales strategy

Analysis of these responses activities considered to have the greatest impact toward achieving improved sales performance. The following three activities ranked highly as most likely to have the greatest impact toward improving sales force effectiveness.

- Ability to place talented people in the right positions
- Ability to effectively and efficiently move opportunities through the various stages of the sales funnel
- Ability to effectively reach and influence executive-level decision makers

#1 Ranked Activity: The ability to place the right people in the right positions

Putting the right people in the right positions is overwhelmingly ranked as the number one factor considered most likely to improve overall sales force effectiveness. Senior level sales management participating in the 2004 Miller Heiman Sales Effectiveness survey ranked this as 15% more influential than the survey population as a whole.

In fact, the ability to have the right people in the right positions is up to ten times more likely to impact sales results than other talent-related dimension of sales effectiveness analyzed, including recruitment and retention. Putting the right people in the right positions, however, isn't subjective. You must have a formalized process that quantitatively assesses the strengths and capabilities of each individual team member. The ability to absorb product knowledge, business acumen, or specific industry experience are all really good. But to make really smart, talent-based decisions, you must understand the inherent strengths of an individual and put them in positions that leverage those strengths.

Consider the qualities and strengths of "hunters." The have the strengths required to pursue the right kind of business and appreciate higher than average close ratios. Does everyone in your sales organization tasked with prospecting new business share the traits required for success? Now consider the strengths and qualities of "farmers." These are the people in account management that excel at developing relationships and find reward in building long-term rapport and value with the client. Are these salespeople in positions and roles most aligned with their strengths?

Imagine what it would be like if you could predict which sales candidates would be top performers before you hired them. Pre-employment sales assessments can help you to:

- Accurately predict success in a given sales position
- Develop strategic succession planning
- Implement employment/redeployment programs
- Receive important information on thinking style, behavioral characteristics and occupational interests on current employees or candidates
About the Author
Jim Sirbasku is co-founder and CEO of Profiles International, a leading provider of human resource management solutions and employment assessments for businesses worldwide. For more information about using assessments to solve sales effectiveness challenges, visit our website.
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