Sales leaders – December 31st is coming soon…and so are year-end results; an often painful time when there is no denying the effectiveness of your current sales team.
If you’re like many of the sales leaders I’ve worked with over the past 25 years, it’s decision time:
- What do I do with the weak performing sellers that don’t make goal? Should they stay or should they go?
- How do I hire more top performers so I’m not in this position next year?
Let me help make your decisions easier…put your time and money into the highest probability salespeople; those who have Skill and Will.
- Skill: necessary selling abilities and expertise
- Will: personal drive and internal factors that reflect ‘can do’ attitude and beliefs
Skill and Will are two factors necessary for long-term sales success.
The necessary Skills will depend on the specific type of selling role, your industry, and what you sell.
The Will is complicated, so we’ve identified a short list of specific attributes that can be screened for and coached to. We call these the Success Drivers—the components of the Will factor.
The four Success Drivers that demonstrate a person’s Will:
- Integrated Beliefs: Three personal beliefs that affect activity level and confidence.
- Belief in Self: Belief in one’s own skills and ability to be successful.
- Belief in Role: Belief that current profession provides value to others.
- Belief in Value: Belief that what they sell provides value and is worth more than the cost for securing it.
- Goal Transparency: Having goals that are written, specific, and measurable. The goals are visible and detectable by others in their words, writing, and actions.
- Initiative: Self-directed personal energy which leads to proactively action.
- Emotional Intelligence: The awareness of and ability to manage one’s emotions in a healthy and productive manner. Rolling with the ups and downs of selling.
There are several things I’ve learned the hard way as I’ve interviewed thousands and hired hundreds of salespeople—Skill can be trained; Will cannot. The Will can only be strengthened through consistent coaching, observation, and feedback with someone who is receptive to your influence and willing to work hard to develop.
Which is most important? Tough question, like the “chicken or the egg” debate. If you have to choose between Skill and Will, select for Will and then provide world class training that sticks to ramp up the Skill quickly.
Now back to the questions you may be facing at year end: What to do with those sellers who are not performing at goal and how to hire top performers…
For your current sellers who are not hitting goal: first weigh the return of what you believe they will produce to the costs of employing them: salary, benefits, and a very expensive cost—your time and energy.
Next, objectively evaluate their Skill and Will. If they have the correct amount of Skill and Will, you believe that they can be more productive, and you have the time and commitment to coach, keep them.
If they lack Skill, find the right training opportunities. If your experience shows that they lack Will, sounds like a reassignment or removal is in order.
To hire top performers, increase your probability of a good hire with a selection process that is as well executed:
- Benchmark the role for experience, Skill, and Will.
- Use objective and subjective review activities:
- Behavior based interviews over at least two meetings to see how they ‘show’ more than once; past behaviors and mindset remain a great indicator for future performance.
- Objective assessments that can measure Skill and Will (we offer several in case you are looking).
- At least one subjective assessment activity such as a sales presentation, identifying and delivering a plan for how they will ramp-up and approach their market, or a writing sample
- We have applicants complete a questionnaire in advance of the 2nd This gives us a great sample of their written communication style and their ability to interpret questions.
- Compare candidates to the benchmark, not to each other—choosing one of two poorly fit candidates will not give you an All Star.
- Require proof: If they can’t provide proof for their claims of achievements, beware. Effective reference checks provide valuable confirmation or new questions to be explored.
Willful people get it done; and a whole willful team makes your job easier. If you really want to build and hire top performers, evaluate your current team and future hires for Skill and Will.