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Why Are My Salespeople Not Perfoming as Expected?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jun 26, 2020

Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?  It's a loaded question.  Or, is it?  In our corporate sales training experience, we've seen that evaluating underperforming salespeople in the pre-hire sales assessment is crucial for success in your business.

From poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success, to other candidates being eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring on sales STRENGTHS, there are specific reasons that not all of your salespeople are performing the way that you thought they would.

Did you hire them this way or did you make them this way?  Let's take a look...

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If you are a sales leader and you look at your numbers and the people producing those numbers, do you ever scratch your head in confusion over why you are looking at a lack of sales results?

Certainly, you didn’t hire these people to be in the middle of the pack or at the tail end of the conga line, but that is right where they are.  I know you don’t believe you hired them that way, but it’s either that, or you made them that way.

Don’t get upset with me here.  The reality is that your team’s performance is a result of who you’ve hired or what you’ve done (or not done).

So, in general, why do so many salespeople fail to perform? I have detailed answers to that question that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else besides right here.

  • Underperformers have 80% of the desire of top performers. *Note – not all performers have off-the-chart desire – that is about 7% of all top sales people.
  • Those that underperform have about 44% of the commitment to succeed in selling that top performers do.
  • These two factors combine to measure motivational level. Underperformers have about 60% of the motivation of your top people.

SUMMARY – Underperformers just are not as motivated to succeed.

SOLUTION – STOP hiring people that are not motivated to succeed at the highest level of performance!

Using the Objective Management Sales Evaluation, there are over 100 data points to measure the opportunity for sales growth of a sales team/organization.  Additionally, this data helps us to predict the likelihood of success of new sales people and managers. 

Here are some interesting findings based on the raw data I have from assessing salespeople (as well as firsthand knowledge of some of the people in the study).

  • Top performers are trainable and coachable
  • Top performers have a high figure-it-out factor
  • Top performers have a low need for approval and…
  • Top performers score an average of 86.8 (higher score is better) and underperformers score 39.6 for handling rejection!
  • Top performers are hunters, consultative sellers and closers (average score for skills is 55% of required skills while underperformers average 39.6% of required skills)

SUMMARY  Salespeople – regardless of tenure or previous success - need training and coaching. Also top performers handle rejection extremely well and move on.

SOLUTION  Do not hire based on past performance. (It’s like investing in a mutual fund – past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.)  During the interview process, reject the heck out of the candidate – the strong ones will recover and attempt to close you over and over again!

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The following data indicates that sales strengths are better indicators of success rather than sales skills:

  • Underperformers have 85% of the sales skills of top performers and have…
  • Only 71% of the sales strengths that support execution of sales skills and…
  • The severity of their sales weaknesses are 52% higher than that of top performers

SUMMARY – The skills are about the same, but those with strong strengths of desire, commitment, outlook and responsibility win.

SOLUTION – Make sure your pre-hire assessment process looks for strengths and “will sell” rather than just skills, personality and behavioral traits.

So, back to the original question:   “Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?”:

  • Poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success
  • Candidates eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring for sales strengths
  • Too much credit given to sales skills exhibited during interview process
  • Lack of solid training and development on the root causes of poor performance

Now that you have the answers to the question, what will you do about it?

Topics: improve sales, sales management secrets, sales meetings, individual sales success, sales management responsibility, humor, inspect what expect, sales management skills, 8 Steps for Closing, hiring salespeople, sales practice, sales management, sales results, sales management success, improving sales results, sales metrics, inspiration, sales problems, hiring sales managers, sales management, sales success, keys to selling, sales pitch, sales performance management, sales prospects, how to manage salespeople, sales onboarding, hiring better salespeople, sales menagement, sales management tools, #1 sales assessment, hunting for sales prospects, how to improve sales results, initial sales meetings, how to get a commitment to buy, how increase sales, hiring top salespeople, sales recruitment, sales motivation, how to close a sales deal, how to hit goals in sales, sales skill assessment, consultative selling, 5 keys to coaching sales improvement, how to prospect, sales productivity tools, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, insurance sales training, 5 keys to sales coaching, online sales management training, insurance prospecting system, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, sales management training cincinnati, sales productivity tools cincinnati, hiring sales people cincinnati, increase sales cincinnati

The High Cost of Replacing Unsuccessful Salespeople

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Aug 20, 2018

Before the Salk Vaccine:

“Until 1955, when the Salk vaccine was introduced, Polio was considered one of the most frightening public health problems in the world. In the postwar United States, annual epidemics were increasingly devastating. The 1952 U.S. epidemic was the worst outbreak in the nation's history. Of nearly 58,000 cases reported that year, 3,145 people died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis, with most of its victims being children. The "public reaction was to a plague", said historian William L. O'Neill. "Citizens of urban areas were to be terrified every summer when this frightful visitor returned." According to a 2009 PBS documentary, "Apart from the atomic bomb, America's greatest fear was Polio.”

Before the Objective Management Pre-hire assessment:

In the late 1980s, David Kurlan founded the Objective Management Group (OMG). The primary focus of his company was to help sales organizations uncover the root causes for the sales opportunity gap – that variance between how a sales team is performing and how it should be performing. Kurlan’s main objective is to answer the question “will they sell?” That's the essential question every sales interview is geared to answer. So why do we so often end up with salespeople that can't or won't sell despite our best efforts and intentions? 

hiring chart

I'm not trying to compare Polio to hiring salespeople-- just trying to make a point that something dramatic had to happen (a significant change in preventative medicine) to eliminate ‘America’s greatest fear’. Hiring the wrong salespeople is happening today constantly and it’s crippling. Bad hires have an impact on:

  • Top line revenue
  • Profitability
  • Effectiveness of Sales Managers
  • Culture
  • Productivity of the rest of the sales team
  • Wasted time money and effort on training and development

Several years ago I met with a group of financial advisory managers. As part of our meeting we used the Hiring Mistake Calculator to help them determine their specific cost of bad hires. When we finished, I asked the president of the advisory program what number he came up and he said $2,000,000 a year. Based on best estimates, a bad sales hire is a $100,000 to a $1,000,000 mistake. If you are a hiring manager, an HR director with a recruiting team or a president of a company, this 2-comma problem should cause you to realize that a dramatic change is needed.

Everything that the hiring manager and supporting HR team does when attracting, vetting, assessing and selecting salespeople should be focused on ONE thing! Will they sell? Not: Can they sell? Do they know banking? How well do they understand coverage’s and employee benefits? Can they conduct a financial plan? 

Over the years I’ve asked sales managers and presidents this question: How many people that are no longer with you are gone because they didn’t understand insurance, banking or investment advisory. The answer for 25 years has been; Zero! Not a single person was fired or left because they didn’t know the how to of the business. Bad hires are bad hires for 1 primary reason – they can’t or won’t sell. Yes, you will sometimes have cultural, compliance or HR issues but 90% of the time people are exited because they did not perform the basic fundamentals required to be successful in selling.

Click on the links below to learn more about the Objective Management Group assessments and how having a strong recruiting process will help eliminate hiring mistakes!

The OMG Assessment

Eliminate Hiring Mistakes for Outside Salespeople

What Does Your Best Sales Person Look Like

Understanding the Make-Up of Your Current Sales Team

Hire Better Salespeople Recruiting

How to Hire Bankers Who Will Sell

Why is Selling so #%&@ Hard

Topics: OMG assessment, assessing sales talent, #1 sales assessment

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.

     

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