Golden Nuggets from the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 24, 2018 @ 20:10 PM


I had a chance to review the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study and extracted some fascinating data.  I thought it might be interesting to take their data, overlay some of Objective Management Group's (OMG) data, and see what we can take away from that.

Tick-Tock.  The report reveals that open sales positions remain so for an average of nearly 4 months and 9 months pass before a new hire achieves full productivity.  That's over a year!  This particular finding is a moving target and somewhat reflective of the relatively small number of proactive sales candidates and far smaller percentage of good ones.  The report shows that only 22.6% of organizations believe that hiring is an organizational strength, so this recruiting performance shouldn't surprise anyone.  OMG has a finding called FIOF (Figure it out Factor) which correlates to how quickly a candidate will ramp up to speed. Candidates who come up to speed more quickly than typical sales candidates score 75 or better and only 25% of all candidates have this as a strength.   

Not Nutritional.  Western diets are notorious for their inclusion of unhealthy, unnecessary, processed, fatty food instead of healthy whole foods.  Similarly, companies listed sales requirements for new salespeople that were filled with unnecessary requirements (ie., business degree from a university, college degree of any kind, STEM degree, industry sales experience, emotional intelligence, etc.) instead of strong and broad capabilities in the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  This suggests that companies still lack a basic understanding of what causes salespeople to succeed.

Tooling.   An equal number of companies use candidate assessments as those who don't.  However, those who do use assessments have 61% quota attainment and 14.6% attrition, versus 49% quota attainment and 19.8% attrition for those who don't use assessments.  Companies that use assessments are 25% more successful at quota achievement and that data is not even for any particular assessment.  Imagine how much better the results are for the companies that use OMG's accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessments. Data from companies who have hired salespeople that were recommended by OMG shows an attrition rate of only 8% and quota attainment of 88%.  

Put Me in Coach.  Just 10% of the companies said that coaching was a strength.  That jives pretty well with OMG's data from its evaluations of more than 25,000 sales forces.  Only 10% of all Sales Managers have the Sales Coaching competency as a strength but most of that group are in the top 20% of all sales managers.

Two-Step.  38% of companies reported that they have a sales process.  Respondents appeared to be overly optimistic as OMG's data shows that only 27% of companies actually have a formal, structured sales process.

Right Down the Pipe.  20% claimed that pipeline management is a strength at their company but that claim is even more optimistic than the dance above.  Remember, their report is built from a survey so it's vulnerable to optimistic misstatements.  OMG's sales force evaluation data reveals that the actual number is 8%!

In conclusion, I'm still disappointed that these numbers aren't improving more quickly.  I believe that there are several reasons for this, but my top 3 are:

  • Too many sales leaders have large egos that don't allow them to ask for or receive help, believing that they and they alone are responsible for, and capable of moving the needle
  • The C Suite often delegates responsibility for change but change won't occur until the commitment to change is demonstrated to the sales organization from those at the very top of the company
  • Many companies are well intentioned about change but don't always make the best choices and don't always see those choices through.  Exhibit #1 is CRM.  My observation of CRM selection, installation, training, customization, integration, acceptance, and adoption is that it has been nothing short of an industry-wide cluster fuck.  Please excuse my language.

Of course there are more reasons than these 3 but most of them, when looked at objectively, can be traced back to these three.  For example, we can consider the people, coaching, training, strategy, systems, processes, expectations, accountability, motivation, culture, and more, but as soon as you seek the cause we must look to the original three reasons.

In the end, it's not usually an unwillingness to spend money to improve sales selection, provide the right tools, hire the right sales leaders, consultants and trainers.  It's the lack of unconditional commitment to get it right.

Join the LinkedIn discussion of this article.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales process, sales recruiting, Sales Coaching, sales pipeline, sales opportunities, cso insights, sales recruiting failure

How Many Salespeople Made Quota in 2010?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 21, 2011 @ 12:02 PM

percentage signAccording to CSO Insights 17th annual Sales Performance Optimization (SPO) study released earlier this month, an all-time high percentage of salespeople hit their quota in 2010.  2,800 companies participated in the study which found that 59% of all salespeople made their quota.

Does that sound right to you?

This study is basically saying that during one of the worst recessions ever, an all-time high percentage of salespeople hit their numbers.  I don't buy it and here's why.

Objective Management Group's data (on more than 500,000 salespeople from 8,500 companies (about 50,000 of them from 2010) shows that only 44% are hitting their numbers - a 15% discrepancy.

Could it be that after such an abysmal 2009, companies lowered quotas for 2010 ?

Could it be that companies lowered their expectations as they completed the survey so their sales forces wouldn't look so feeble?

Could it be that salespeople with existing business spread over a number of accounts - basically functioning in an account manager role -  are capable of hitting their numbers when the quota doesn't go up?  In other words, just because salespeople are hitting their numbers, it doesn't necessarily mean that those salespeople have become more effective, or that they ahave become producers.

There's certainly no reason why even 1% of salespeople would tell us that they aren't hitting their numbers if, in fact, they are; so why else would there be such a discrepancy?

It doesn't really matter.  Of more importance are the following additional findings:

  • Sales hiring is WAY up;
  • Sales training investments are increasing by 9.5 percent per rep;
  • Marketing and sales are still not aligned, with marketing picking up more of the burden for lead generation.
  • Up selling and cross-selling are still issues
  • Emphasis on finding new business

My take away? Optimism is up!

Companies are certainly investing in their sales forces again. I can see that first hand with both of my companies. Objective Management Group is seeing more Sales Force Evaluations and more Licenses to assess candidates than at anytime in the past 20 years!  Kurlan & Associates has more active clients for training and development, coaching, recruiting and selection, sales force architecture and sales measurement and metrics than at any time in the past 25 years.  Why are so many companies looking for help right now?  As the economy slowly rights itself, nobody wants to be left behind and most companies are tired of not getting the growth they need and want.

Closing thought - Today is President's Day.  Select the US President, past or present, that you most admire and pretend you are him.  As that President, how would you use the information in today's article to accelerate your firm's growth?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales candidates, cso insights, reps making quota, sales assessments

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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