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ATD Blog

Developing Sales Talent Begins With a Clear Framework

Friday, May 10, 2024

Developing sales talent begins with a clear framework, but how can leaders determine the competencies they need?

Recruitment is vital for any company looking to cultivate talent, but without clear guidance, leaders might end up overspending on attributes that don’t necessarily translate into better sales. What specific competencies should companies seek in potential salespeople, and how can leaders harness recent advancements in generative artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance their talent pool?

In the second part of the conversation between Mike Hoffman, SBI CEO, and Nick Toman, SBI Chief Strategy and Product Officer, they explore the critical role talent plays in any company’s go-to-market (GTM) growth strategy.

Identifying Your Ideal Salesperson Profile

A salesperson’s effectiveness goes beyond what’s listed on their CV, and the qualities that make them successful can vary from one industry to another. Therefore, the key to success lies in identifying the ideal salesperson profile that fits your company’s requirements for driving growth.

“When we talk about the ideal salesperson profile, we’re essentially referring to a set of characteristics that define individuals, which you can actively seek out and hire, almost like an archetype.”


Through a thorough data analysis process enhanced by machine learning, SBI has assisted numerous companies in identifying their ideal salesperson profile. For instance, in one company, the analysis revealed three essential sales competencies crucial for commercial success:

“What we discovered was that, for this particular organization, having five or more years of experience, including three to five years within the company, not necessarily in a commercial role but having a deep understanding of the company and its product range, coupled with strong negotiation skills, ability to generate referrals, and adeptness in utilizing marketing programs were key.”

“They excelled in utilizing marketing programs to present insightful thought leadership to customers, effectively aiding them in navigating the purchasing process. We found that focusing on these competencies led to significant improvements in quota attainment for this organization.”


The main takeaway? The data needed to help your sales team succeed is already within your reach. Identify the essential competencies and skills crucial for your business, then recruit and train individuals to excel in these areas, thus maximizing the potential of your entire sales force.

Once a robust talent profile is established, leaders can harness AI advancements to further enhance their sales teams. A simple way to start is by asking questions about your customers:

“Gain a deeper understanding of what’s happening, why it’s happening, and how your customers are responding. What challenges are they facing? What’s at stake? Sharpen your focus.”

“The potential of AI is immense, and one of the most powerful applications, I believe, lies in encouraging your sales teams to be curious about the accounts they are working on. Utilize generative AI to explore these accounts in ways they’ve never been able to before.”

About the Author

Ray Makela is the general manager of SRG, a part of SBI. He oversees all training client engagements as well as serves as a senior facilitator on sales management, coaching, negotiation, and sales training workshops. Ray has over 20 years of management, consulting, and sales experience and writes frequently on best practices for coaching and developing sales teams.

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