Want to Find More Sales Rock Stars? Yeah, We Thought So

Want to Find More Sales Rock Stars? Yeah, We Thought So

Every company’s sales department is important to the company’s success. Products and services don’t sell themselves and when sales does well, the company does well. Yet today’s environment presents new sales challenges. How can sellers build rapport and trust with prospects across a video link instead of across the table? Social media can be used to reach buyers, but that world is complex and evolving. How can social media be used effectively by sellers? Widely available white papers and product spec sheets mean buyers can educate themselves on solutions, making it more difficult for sellers to add value.

How can sales executives find and motivate sales rock stars, especially in today’s tight labor market? Widely used assessment tools like Predictive Index can get the right people in the right seats, but that’s just the beginning. There are more tools that sales executives can use to build high-performing sales teams.

Hire – getting the right person in the right seat

Great selling starts with a great fit for the role. Not all sales roles are the same and hiring and development of sellers starts with a well-defined job target. Outside sales hunter rolls call for people who are quick to connect, independent, and have a sense of urgency. Inside sales rolls call for some of the same social skills but with more attention to detail. Major account roles often call for sellers with high levels of discipline, more focus on the details yet still able to connect with and influence others.
How best to hire for such disparate sales roles? Avoid the trap of simply looking at candidates’ historical quota performance and their connections. Start with job profiles or targets built with input from people knowledgeable about the role. Then profile candidates using assessment tools and scientifically assess which candidate fits which sales role. Find rock stars in all your sales roles. Here is an article that describes profiles that have sales rock star potential.

Motivation – it’s more than the compensation plan

The beginning of the sales year brings dread with quota assignment, and cheer with roll out of the compensation plan. As the year progresses some sellers are crushing quota and others struggle with few closes and a thin funnel. Some sellers nail their forecasts and others are off wildly. Yet all sellers have the same product set and the same compensation plan. What explains the performance variances?

Motivation is more than the comp plan. Of course, money motivates but there are other motivational needs. Sales executives require knowledge of each seller’s reference profile and drives. Drives create needs and those needs create behaviors. Want to change behaviors? Start with your sellers’ drives. These are clearly described in PI’s seventeen reference profiles.

For example, Specialists are highly precise workers who respects authority. They need encouragement and opportunities to work with facts. They are motivated by public recognition of how their work is helping and supporting the team. Praise them for the accuracy and precision of their work. This is a great profile for inside sales or sales operations.

Predictive Index Captains

Captains are problem solvers who like change and innovation while controlling the big picture. They need independence, the ability to connect with others and flexibility and variety. They are motivated by public recognition of accomplishments, leadership, and decision-making ability. They want opportunities to work with and develop people, and independence from structures and rules. Captain is a great profile for outside sales roles.
Strategists are results-oriented, innovative, and analytical with a drive for change. They need understanding of the big picture, opportunities to work with facts, and time to develop expertise. They are motivated by control over their work and putting their ideas into action. They want private recognition for their expertise or depth of knowledge or the tangible results they’ve achieved. This could be a good profile for major account sales.
Understanding of individual profiles and associated motivational needs can go far in turning existing sellers into future rock stars. PI has a helpful guide the explains how to motivate each reference profile. Reach out to the author or your PI consultant for a copy of The Manager’s Guide to Reference Profiles.

Group Analytics – rinse and repeat success

Do you ever wish there was a way to examine the common characteristics of existing top-performing sellers? What makes this group of rock stars tick? Is there a common profile?
The good news is such a tool exists. Using PI Analytics, sales executives can look at the profiles of top performers and build a hiring profile to repeat success. Analytics shows what your existing rock stars have in common. Are they extroverted or introverted? Attentive to detail or big-picture thinkers? Are they calm and deliberative or driving and want everything done yesterday? It is powerful to understand the unique profile of your top performers, people who thrive in your company’s culture with your product set. Hire to this profile and you can rinse and repeat success! Want to know more? Here is an article that describes three popular analytics tools.

Top performer flight risk – who is almost out the door?

Another big risk for sales leaders is turnover. In this tight labor market with quiet quitting a reality, how can you identify which sellers are flight risks? This is especially important for top performers who are attractive recruits for competitors and even customers.

Assessment tools like PI’s behavioral assessment can compare a person’s natural drives with how those drives fit, or don’t fit, their current role. PI’s self-concept graph shows how an individual may be stretching away from core needs and drives to perform in a given role or as part of their team. This could reveal red flags indicating who may have one foot out the door.

For instance, a seller with a naturally high dominance drive will be venturesome, comfortable with conflict and assertive. If their role calls for low-dominance behavior, they will be expected to be harmony-seeking, supportive and collaborative. In other words, they will be stifled. Similarly, a seller with a high patience drive will naturally be peaceful, patient, steady and comfortable with the familiar. If their role calls for low patience behavior, they will be expected to be driving, urgent, and intense. In other words, they will be stretched like a tight rubber band.

Tension like this might be resolved by the seller seeing it as challenging and motivational. More likely it will be seen as draining and unsustainable. The use of PI’s self and self-concept graphs can potentially show which of your sellers are feeling like a square peg in a round hole and indicative of flight risk. This is a great opportunity for a coaching session or a stay interview. SHRM has created a handy guide for stay interviews, and you can find it here.
Keep your stars in your galaxy.

PI Design – Why aren’t all my sellers crushing it?

One more tool, PI’s Design, can give sales executives an understanding of why some sellers are way above quota and others struggle. Design looks at the alignment, or lack thereof, between a team and its goals and objectives. Design can explain individual variances in performance. It also can explain why an entire team is crushing it, or really struggling.

Design uses work styles to understand teams and individuals. There are four works styles.
• teamwork and employee experience
• innovation and agility
• results and discipline
• process and precision
Each seller’s profile shows which of these four work styles is their natural behavioral emphasis. It shows their strongest contribution to the team and describes some of their challenge areas. This can be used to highlight the degree to which the tasks fit the team.

For example, if you most of your inside sales team falls into the teamwork and employee experience category, they will focus on collaboration and relationship building, be socially and interpersonally sensitive, and prefer to support others to grow and develop. If the tasks assigned to the team call for them to focus on results and goal achievement, be driven and competitive, and focus on tasks and execution, there is going to be significant struggle. This will lead to diminished performance, burn out, low morale and turnover.

Want more rock stars? Measure how well the team is aligned to its tasks.

Complimentary talent assessment

Sales executives wanting to find and grow more rock stars can use PI’s suite of talent optimization tools to hire, motivate and grow top performers. There are a lot of tools, and one way to determine which tools will work best for you is to self-diagnose using the Talent Optimization Maturity Model. This model is a diagnostic tool that measures your company’s talent maturity across 15 talent disciplines. It will isolate problem areas so you know where to focus for fast results. This survey tool is complimentary and is available from your PI consultant or the author.

Want more sales rock stars? Yeah, we thought so.

Mark H. Johnson

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