How to Develop an Overachieving Sales Force

Even in today’s challenging economy, it is possible to develop your sales force to meet and exceed sales goals. Here are three steps you can put to immediate use to leverage the hidden potential of your sales team.

The first key is to use an assessment tool when hiring new salespeople and evaluating existing ones. The web-based assessment tool I use is a powerful instrument that will tell you:

  • whether the people you have or are considering hiring can sell in your environment and execute your selling strategies;
  • whether they are trainable; and
  • if they are, any weaknesses that should be addressed.

This tool thus reduces the risk of bad hires, while providing more focused training for those who are hirable. For your existing salespeople, this tool can help top performers identify hidden strengths and weaknesses so they can make slight edge changes to take them to the next level of results. It also saves you the time, money and frustration of holding out to those who won’t succeed or training those who won’t benefit from such an exposure.

To view an assessment for new hires and existing salespeople, you can request samples from the Objective Management Group.

The second key is helping trainable sales people to develop the core competency upon which selling success depends.

What stops most people from consistently overachieving is usually not just a lack of technique but a lack of the one quality upon which all technique and skill depend: their capacity to deal with risk, challenge and uncertainty. For it is this capacity that will determine how high a salesperson will call, what questions he will ask, how well he will execute the skills he knows, and ultimately how long he can keep risking and selling in the face of disappointments, negatives and self-doubt.

To the extent this faculty is insufficiently developed, salespeople will suffer form the “achievement killers”: high need for approval, fear of failure, call reluctance, inability to ask the tough questions and fear of rejection.

The failure to develop this capacity also explains why most sales training models don’t produce optimal or sustainable results. For they rest upon the implicit fallacy that “I know” necessarily means “I can.” — it doesn’t. In sales it’s not enough to know what to do, one must be able to do it. My process avoids this fatal flaw by helping salespeople develop not just selling skills that produce results, but the psychological competencies required to perform them.

The third key is to introduce a selling system (best practices) so salespeople have a developmental model and management has a method to hold them accountable to.

Effective execution of sales strategy requires having capable sales performers that know what to say and how to say it when dealing with prospects. To do this consistently and effectively requires a selling system — a comprehensive and consistent set of practices and principles, consisting of questioning strategies and selling approaches, so salespeople know what to do and say in all selling situations: How to stay in conversation on a cold call, how to determine rightness of fit between your offering and your prospect’s opportunity, how to sell value not price and how to help prospects make decisions to either close the file or close the sale.

By identifying capable and trainable salespeople, developing their core competency, and mentoring them on current best practices, the end result is development that delivers results.