When preparing to build a highly effective sales force, much emphasis is placed on putting the right people into the right roles. Role fit—the important dynamic between an individual’s intrinsic personality characteristics and that which is required of them to be successful in sales—specifically plays into what it looks like to sell your solutions to your customers within your company and its unique culture.
Why New Hires StruggleWhen we don’t get the formula right, the consequences are evident. It’s likely that these new hires don’t possess the core competencies necessary to succeed in sales. These individuals may be slow to progress through the onboarding process because they are swimming upstream and important details or nuances may not click the way they need to. With every misstep, the new salesperson’s energy begins to deplete, thus influencing their confidence. This self-doubt begins to affect their manager, teammates, and others. The pressure to produce continues to mount. When their lower capabilities combine with overwhelm, they fail to cultivate the right habits and behaviors.
In the best-case scenario when an ill-fitted new hire struggles, what often comes next is a concerted effort of training and coaching. There’s this sense that if we can just develop the person, productivity will happen. While there may be short-term gains from this more intensive focus, once it naturally begins to wane, these individuals will typically revert to comfortable behavior. Ultimately, the inconsistent performance that stems from not doing the right things will soon activate the departure timetable.
Hire Intelligently, Personalize DevelopmentOne way to break this cycle is to hire people who possess the innate raw materials for selling. Adapting your selection process to include an objective, scientifically validated assessment provides genuine insight into someone’s personality strengths. Assessing the natural behavioral tendencies against role requirements and the specific, cultural expectations of the organization removes the guesswork on which candidates to shortlist. Doing so also provides a blueprint for the right set of structured interviewing questions to probe potential issues—as most salespeople are often great interviewers, having an objective measure becomes a real advantage.
Case in point: Let’s say for the first six months salespeople work primarily out of the company’s headquarters and then are expected to work from home—a completely different environment— without loss of productivity. Let’s also assume that in the past, salespeople have struggled with the change of working conditions; without the same structure, they eventually flamed out 12–24 months later. Imagine how much more effective the hiring process would be if, by using an assessment, it would be possible to objectively measure in advance how well a candidate manages their time (80 percent effectiveness out of a possible 100 percent) and how capable they are in structuring their activities without supervision (60 percent effectiveness out of a possible 100 percent)?
To advance this idea farther down the line, consider what the onboarding process looks like when a sales manager has insights into a new hire’s ability to bounce back from setbacks (65 percent effective), negotiate (30 percent effective), and influence and persuade (93 percent)? This type of view helps the manager and new salesperson co-create a personalized learning journey that harnesses that employee’s strengths and targets their gaps.
Next, think about that upcoming sales training workshop that focuses on processes and skills necessary to drive a solution sale. The amount of information expressed during a typical full-day class is quite substantive—so much so that it can be a challenge for learners to determine what they should implement, which means that it’s possible nothing gets implemented. If prior to attending that workshop, however, a manager sat down with their new hire or incumbent, pulled out the assessment data, and created a specific plan for what that person should focus on after the class, then throughout the experience any relevant workshop content takes on a new, personalized meaning.
Selling to the modern customer in today’s ultra-competitive market means that the right fit matters. To the extent that internal processes can incorporate objective measures to select and develop talent, it reduces human bias, creates a road map for maximizing individual strengths, reduces the impact of gaps, and ultimately stems the tide of turnover.