According to published research, only 26 per cent of salespeople have the skills to be successful (with 6 per cent being elite).
That means nearly three quarters of sales reps are inefficient, mediocre or worse – for a variety of reasons. And how is your business going to achieve sales growth when your team might not have the ability to perform?
It is a rather compelling statistic for sure, but it is a finding of extensive research by Dave Kurlan from the Objective Management Group, and continues to be effective in the evaluation of sales reps today. So what sets the top 26 per cent apart from the rest? Kurlan notes that they can be narrowed down to four elements; desire, commitment, responsibility and outlook.
Seemingly self-explanatory, having a strong desire in sales is about how badly the person wants to succeed. Of course there wouldn’t be many people in sales who would ever say ‘no, I don’t wish to achieve’, but as we know, ‘saying’ is one thing, ‘doing’ is something else entirely.
If a salesperson lacks strong desire, their incentive to do anything difficult to get a sale won’t be very compelling, and the easy alternative is a path well travelled. And here’s the catch – desire to be successful can come and go, and along with it will be the ability to achieve success in sales. Even a salesperson who has an amazing career in sales can get to a place when they ‘take their foot off the gas’ and a lack of desire develops.
It is very doubtful that a salesperson could be successful without commitment to their job, it is certainly not something that lands in your lap! But often commitment is confused with work ethic, and is also conditional on particular circumstances. People with strong sales commitment will;
- Make calls they might not be comfortable making
- Ask questions they might not be comfortable asking
- Push back when they might not be comfortable pushing back
- Have a conversation about money when they aren’t comfortable talking about money
- Say ‘no’ to an inappropriate presentation request when it’s not comfortable to say ‘no’
- Learn to sell the new way when they might not be comfortable with change
- Be proactive when their default is to be reactive
- Hunt for new business when they are most comfortable managing existing accounts
This is where making excuses doesn’t cut it. Simple. Salespeople who take responsibility for their results, whether good or bad, will fare a lot better than those who always find an external reason for lack of achievement. Why? Because those who are unable to see the part they played in a sales failure are very unlikely to understand how they can personally improve their skills for a better outcome next time.
Outlook can be quite difficult to measure, and control, as it does encompass attitude about a person’s employer, the job, their career and how they view themselves. If a sales rep’s outlook isn’t so positive it can affect a variety of things, including the all important elements of desire and commitment.
Understanding these four elements, and evaluating everyone in your team on each competency, is crucial to your business achieving sales success.