I'll open with a baseball analogy: A few weeks ago, the Boston Red Sox traded Kevin Youkilis - a disgruntled, underperforming, 3-time all-star - to the Chicago White Sox AND the Red Sox paid most of his remaining 2012 salary. In return, they received a couple of unspectacular spare parts. What has happened since? Youkilis reverted to form and quickly became a fan favorite in Chicago. The Red Sox continue to lose games and underperform. So, the question is: Was it Youkilis or the team that caused him, and just about everyone not named David Ortiz, to underperform this year?
Now the sales connection: Whether your salespeople are underperforming or doing well, are they responsible or is it your company, culture, advertising or offerings that's responsible?
Using data from the 600,000+ salespeople and sales managers whom OMG assessed, we know that salespeople, who work for industry leaders, do well because of their company's reputation, advertising and offerings. We know that in underdog companies (pricier than competition, high-ticket, new company, new technology, story to tell, pioneer, etc.), when salespeople are underperforming, it is usually because of the salespeople, not the company.
Sales is not like other roles. A salesperson's successful performance at one company does not necessarily translate to success in a different role or at another company, much like certain baseball players don't perform well in the Boston or New York markets, despite having the ability to perform at a high level for smaller market teams.
As selling continues to be more challenging, companies must make dramatic improvements at sales selection and development. Specifically, sales leaders at all levels must follow best practices for the sales selection process, on-boarding and ongoing development. OMG's data also shows that 86% of all sales managers don't perform any of those three roles very well.
When sales managers are ineffective at selecting the right salespeople, they compound the problem by being equally ineffective at coaching - the foundation of ongoing development.
Training salespeople is nice, but a waste of time and money when the wrong salespeople are trained and sales managers aren't prepared to coach to and hold salespeople accountable to the training.
It's time to fix these problems, not turn a blind eye.