You're thinking, "You've got to be kidding me!" How does this title tie in?
I was talking with a client last week and we were comparing notes about how we both played competitive junior tennis back in the day. There was one tournament where I was in the finals and I was trying to figure out when exactly that might have been and I remembered that the band Chicago had its first big hit with the song "25 or 6 to 4". After googling it for the release date, turns out "the day" must have been in the summer of 1970.
25 or 6 to 4 brings me to 2 to 16. A friend and I were comparing notes on our 9-year-olds when I said that ours is 7 years away from driving and only 7 years removed from 2. Sometimes we observe mature, smart, 16-year-old thinking and behavior from him and other times we watch him behave like a 2-year-old, complete with tantrums. 2 to 16 means there is a 14 year swing and we rarely witness the behavior of a 9-year-old.
2 to 16 brings me to your salespeople. You will see the equivalent of that 14-year swing in most salespeople, on most days. Sometimes they will seem quite close to the salespeople you want them to be - scheduling meetings, asking questions, thoroughly qualifying, and closing. Other days they will act like rookies - getting blown off the phone, spending their sales call time talking features and benefits, responding reactively to requests for quotes and proposals, and chasing the business down until a salesperson from another company closes it.
That 14-year swing is huge. You can't afford to have your salespeople behaving like facilitators, order takers, account managers and amateurs - ever. You need them to be proactive - selling consultatively, everywhere, and always.
Children grow out of their age swings but salespeople must be managed, developed, trained and coached out.