Insanity – Watching businesses stubbornly go through the painstaking process of attracting experienced sales professionals, expecting great results and getting mediocre outcomes.
If you believe that the best process for improving your sales results is to lure your competitor’s salespeople you are in for a painful lesson. It is much like free agency in professional sports. Very few free agents ever live up to the hype of expectations — they don’t have to.
First, the reality:
- Baggage: Most experienced sales professionals bring their experience to your organization, that is a plus. They also bring their bad habits, arrogance, and attitude. Because they have been lured away, they are often untouchable, unteachable, and unwilling to be held responsible. After all, you hired them because they were experienced stars, right?
- Costly: No one ever jumps to the competition without an incentive. To lure someone away, the recruiting firm must add something to the mix that makes the current situation less appealing — more money, bigger benefits, better perks. Attraction in recruiting has its costs and sales professionals know how to maximize the return on their perceived value.
- Risky: If a professional was really enjoying their life in their current organization, why would they leave? If everything was going great, why would anyone ever leave their current situation? They would leave if things weren’t all that great. If things are not all that great, why do businesses incentivize them to leave? Recruiting experienced salespeople is highly risky. You are likely recruiting the burnout, loafer or malcontent — all very risky hires.
Now, the solution:
- Intelligence: Bring intelligence into the process. Create and offer an attractive results based compensation model that rewards outcomes, not experience. If you cannot attract a high performer who, if they hit their normal numbers, will make significantly more money — they are not your type of person.
- Development: Great sports programs develop their players. They know how to recruit and develop inexperienced players and blend them in very successfully with a few well chosen free agents. The key to growth in your business is not buying high priced experienced talent, it is knowing how to discover and develop inexperienced talent.
- Management: The “want it now” mindset is killing business. Short term behaviors, at best, lead to unsustainable, short term results — no one wins. Make a commitment to be intelligent about the hiring, development and management of your team. Sales effectiveness is not solely dependent upon a team of highly experienced, well compensated sales pros. It is an effective blend of effective management, strategy, development in combination with properly defined performance incentives. Great teams require great leadership — don’t lose sight of this fact.
There are no shortcuts or easy paths to building a successful sales team. The least effective of these processes is to build up a team of all-stars that come into the organization from outside. This is a lesson in perpetual insanity.
Attract and retain — develop, manage, incentivize — hungry professionals and I guarantee business will grow and grow consistently.
Final thought: Have you ever read the resume of a sales professional who didn’t “consistently meet or exceed their revenue goals every year”? Exactly!