If the oft-quoted metric that 80 percent of new accounts are sold by 20 percent of salespeople is true, it's axiomatic that most sales representatives don't pull their weight when it comes to bringing in new accounts.
Finding and keeping rainmakers who bring in new customers is a huge challenge for just about every company. Along with turnover rates and high costs of recruiting and training, it's the main reason companies keep sales people who are marginal performers.
There are three main reasons this is happening:
1. Finding good salespeople is still a hit-or-miss process. Traditional hiring interviews and aptitude tests, while helpful, are poor predictors of whether a sales candidate will succeed in the field, as evidenced by today's high turnover rates.
2. Many salespeople avoid pitching new accounts because they don't have the ability
or confidence to prepare and deliver a winning sales presentation.
3. Training alone can't overcome a poor sales aptitude and lack of fundamental selling skills in a new sales hire.
The solution to turning your sales team into a growth machine is to test job candidates with presentation-based sales assessments before they are hired and to pinpoint weaknesses and strengths in veteran salespeople as a precursor to developmental training.
What could be more revealing than assessing salespeople as they present your company's products and services across the desk from a new account prospect?
You can set up your own presentation-based sales assessment program using the following nine steps:
Step 1 Create A Selling Company Description: Provide a concise description of your company as the selling company to help salespeople prepare their assessment presentation.
Step 2 Create A Buying Company Description: Write a one-sheet description of a typical buying company, including information about the buyer's objectives, applications and requirements.
Step 3 Appoint a Buyer-Assessor: Choose someone who has the knowledge and experience to play the role of the buyer/assessor to whom your salespeople make their presentations.
Step 4 Create a Scoring System: Prepare a list of sales skills areas on which you
to judge your salespeople. Under each skill area, list on three or four specific skill factors that can be scored from 1 to 5, or Poor to Excellent. At the end of the assessment, add the scores for all skill areas for a total score.
Step 5 Sell your salespeople on the process: Both candidates and veteran salespeople need to buy into the fact that assessing their new account presentation skills will help them professionally and that the grading is fair and objective.
Step 6 Prepare an information kit: Put together an information kit that includes the selling and buying company descriptions, sales brochures and corporate literature to give to each sales person five days in advance of their assessment.
Step 7 Rehearse the buyer/assessor: Hold a rehearsal with the buyer/assessor and have someone acts as a salesperson. Score the presentation and fine-tune the buyer's/assessor's performance.
Step 8 Choose the right facility: Hold your assessment presentations in a setting that closely approximates what a salesperson encounters in a "real world" presentation.
Step 9: Produce a Summary Report: Provide a "report card" for each salesperson that details his score and includes comments by the buyer/assessor.
Provide the information kit to your salespeople five to 10 days in advance of their scheduled new account sales presentation.
You'll be amazed at what you learn with presentation-based sales assessments, not only about job candidates, but, about your veteran salespeople. Perhaps most important, just the process of preparing this kind of sales assessment will put new emphasis on the importance of new account sales and the training required to make all your sales people competent in this critical area of sales performance.
Stan Livacz is president of Interactive Sales Assessments LLC, publisher of the Sales Judge© 28-Factor Sales Skills Assessment. He formerly was a vice president of ADP - Automatic Data Processing, and founded Interactive Marketing Group, a company specializing in data supported sales and marketing programs.