Harvard Business Review Blog Off Target on Sales Greatness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 04, 2013 @ 23:03 PM

This recent article in the Harvard Business Review Blog was as far off target as any I have ever debunked.  Steve Martin lists 7 characteristics that he says differentiate great sales forces from good ones.  His seven are:

  1. Strong Centralized Command and Control with Local Authority, 
  2. Darwinian Sales Culture, 
  3. United Against a Common Enemy, 
  4. Competitive but Cohesive Team, 
  5. DIY Attitude, 
  6. They Suspend Negative Belief Systems, and 
  7. There is Energy and Esprit de Corps!

Compare that with the six I wrote about in this article:

  1. Effective Sales Selection for Appropriate Sales DNA,
  2. Effective Sales Coaching,
  3. Effective Sales Accountability,
  4. Formal, Structured Consultative Sales Process,
  5. Sales and Sales Leadership Training, and
  6. Coaching and Development and Hunting for New Business.

By the way, I'll be leading our top-rated Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston, May 14-15, 2013, and we'll be doing justice to all six of my competencies.
Steve's seven characteristics may be common among the 200 companies he worked with, but common is not the same as cause.  Whether these seven characteristics are adopted or not is dependent on personnel.  As noted on my list, if the #1 priority of a sales organization is the selection of top talent, most of Steve's seven characteristics are unnecessary.  If the #1 priority of a sales organization is to protect the status quo, and/or retain underperforming veteran salespeople, Steve's seven characteristics may be more necessary.  Objective Management Group (OMG) has studied 650,000 salespeople and 100,000 sales managers from around 10,000 companies and if we looked only at common findings, we would be completely misled about the top sales management core competencies.
Whether you call them competencies or characteristics, which ones will actually cause a sales force to perform to their greatest potential?  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales management functions, harvard business review, sales enablement, sales management competencies

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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