How do you identify the top sellers at your organization? Maybe you log into your CRM, look up which of your salespeople exceeded their quotas and brought in the highest amount of closed-won business. But do those numbers give you true insights into your best sellers and how they make their achievements? Not necessarily. For example, they may have inherited the account from someone who built a strong relationship and “farmed” it well or have a strong territory assignment.
If you only look at what your salespeople have already done and focus exclusively on performance data, you can’t predict what they might do in the future. Understanding why your top performers succeed is critical to your success—particularly if you want to use their winning behaviors as a guide for other sellers. Then you can turn to your existing sales force—the middle 80%—and focus on developing them with this data, unearthing “hidden gems” already working for you.
Discovering these gems strengthens sales now and protects you from a strategy of hiring new salespeople to make up for lagging sales numbers, which will be critical if your organization faces a hiring freeze or if economic conditions shrink your talent pool.
Here are four steps to take to find the hidden sales talent among your current sales force.
1. Find and Understand Your Top Sellers
If you’re among the 76% of sales organizations that don’t assess why your top performers are successful, how can you teach the rest of your sales force how to win more deals? You can’t, even if you rely on your gut instincts and hunches. Guessing isn’t a sustainable strategy for growth.
To understand what makes your best salespeople tick and what behaviors drive their success, use a mix of indicators, including result consistency, performance KPIs like quota attainment and qualitative analysis like customer feedback. This helps you identify the seller behavior you want to replicate and those you don’t. Then, take a deeper dive into your data. A sales analytics platform like Scout gives you the insights you need: it shows which seller actions led to wins and losses, enabling you to replicate successful patterns across your sales force.
2. Determine How to Replicate Your Top Sellers’ Success
Invest in talent assessments. You might learn that your most successful sellers have innate qualities that drive their success. Perhaps they are agile learners or possess a sense of intellectual curiosity that leads them to dig deeper into buyer objectives and needs. In that case, you’ll need to change your hiring profile to ensure that you’re looking for these characteristics in candidates.
Or maybe a seller’s approach to specific techniques that set them apart. If that’s the case, nurture those behaviors in other salespeople by targeting your development and coaching efforts toward them.
3. Create Individualized Career Paths
Some salespeople want to rise through the managerial ranks; some just want to sell—they have no leadership aspirations. Others may just be content in their role, so they haven’t given thought to their career path. Either way, offering various types of development options keep your salespeople engaged so they aren’t tempted to look elsewhere for employment—and it helps you find untapped talents to nurture within your organization.
A talent assessment shows where your employees have undeveloped potential, whether that’s the ability to lead a team, take on major accounts or pilot sales of a new product. A predictive assessment showcases a seller’s ability to master the competencies of a more advanced role and evaluates the attributes that lead them to success. This type of assessment predicts who is ready for the next step and what that next step should be—as well as whether additional training or coaching helps them fill any gaps in the skills that they’ll need to succeed at the next level.
4. Look Outside the Sales Team for Potential Sellers.
On average, your service team touches a buyer account 10 times more than your sales team. When sales and service align closely, your service team can provide your sellers valuable intel about buyers’ needs and goals. Without realizing it, they use innate sales skills to strengthen relationships with buyers and bring them further into your sales funnel. This means some talented future sellers might already be in your organization—they’re just not on your sales force.
Work with your chief customer officer to identify staff who might have the ideal aptitude and skills for sales or collaborate to determine how much of a role customer success should play in cross-sells, upsells and renewals. The sooner you cultivate their selling skills, the sooner they’ll deliver results.
By evaluating what makes your top sellers successful and applying those lessons to your sales organization, you’ll set yourself up to identify and grow talent within your existing sales force. The first step? Use our Sales Performance Meter to understand the aptitudes and skills in your existing sales force—and assess the gaps in their abilities—to engage in meaningful succession planning and request the training and coaching you need to help sellers reach their potential in 2020.