Playing the Talent Lottery Might be a Bigger Risk than you Think

When you find that sales are down, ever discover yourself banking on that quick fix? Thinking you can find the right hire that will bring up your sales?

This is actually a bigger gamble than you realize.

“Everyone believes that they are just on hire away from solving the problem”, says Andrew Ford, Founder of Sales CoPilot, “they believe it’s all about just getting that right person”.

We live in a day and age where sales are more difficult.  Today when you meet a potential client, they already know everything about the company.  You cannot read off a brochure and expect them to be happy.  They do not want to be sold; they want you to solve their problems.  30 years ago, customers needed salespeople to tell them about the company and product, but not anymore. “We need smarter sales reps, we need reps that can hang inside a business conversation with senior managers,” says Andrew, “they have to help the client better understand their current situation. And if they do that, they build credibility that can actually help the client solve problems and create value”.

This is why playing the talent lottery is a bigger risk than it has ever been before.  More due diligence is required when making that hire and we have to avoid simply throwing bodies at the problem, “they think they can identify that right guy by reading a resume, or getting a reference,” says Andrew, “and none of those things are very accurate at predicting performance”.

So how do you avoid this pitfall?

First, sit down and understand your business strategy, then from that understand what the sales strategy needs to be.  This will help formulate a plan of how your sales representative is going to be successful when you make that hire.  “Strategy dictates structure”, says Andrew, “this will make it a lot easier to figure out what the right structure is for the sales team and then you can then determine what kind of talent you need”.

Andrew lists three key ingredients you need when building your high performing sales team:

  • Talent
  • Effectiveness
  • Efficiency

“Talent is the right people.  Effectiveness is two parts: first sales skills”, says Andrew “and then what I call tribal knowledge, that’s the ingredients of where we win and why”.  Andrew continues to explain that companies tend to not gather this information very effectively.  It is usually locked away in key people’s heads, and often it is shared orally through stories and anecdotes.  The problem with passing along information orally is that it slow, and inefficiently shared: think of the game of broken telephone.  Lastly, efficiency is how you want the sales team to do the work: Territory, Opportunity, and Time Management.

Sales and sales success needs to be an organizational commitment to develop and refine a formula for success. Specifically, in the technology space “Sales should be validating what it is that you are out there doing that you think has value”, says Andrew, “it needs to be an integrated part of how you think about your business strategy and it is an extension of your strategy”.

There’s no perfect sales person.  “You have got such short windows of opportunity in the technology space”, explains Andrew, “you can’t afford to be that much of a gambler when building a team”.  So resist the urge to buy your lottery ticket for that quick fix and focus on strategy and structure first and then talent, effectiveness and efficiency to build your successful sales team.



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