Today’s post is by Tracey Wik, president and managing director of GrowthPlay’s talent and organization effectiveness practice.
One of the biggest mistakes I see in sales talent management is placing a good sales hire into a position that doesn’t fit the person’s skills or talents.
Nothing will squelch the fires of motivation more thoroughly than a poor job fit. Sellers become frustrated when they can’t successfully do the job they want to do. Research conducted by the Chally Group Worldwide (now part of GrowthPlay) demonstrates that as much as 65 percent of job dissatisfaction is a result of these job mismatches.
In addition, placing the right person in the wrong role will set up your company for a high price of unwanted turnover. In small amounts, turnover keeps the organization fresh with new talent and ideas. However, when turnover is higher or unwanted, the result quickly turns negative – costing the organization considerable time and money to hire and train new salespeople.
Why the Right Person Ends up in the Wrong Sales Role
There are two reasons the right person can end up in the wrong sales role. The first point of possible failure is the recruitment and selection process. The second is when organizations restructure and reassign existing sellers to new roles. Failure in either situation is caused by the same root problem – confusion of strengths and skillsets.
Different sales roles require different styles, skills, and strengths. There’s no more prevalent example than the core competencies needed to be a “hunter” versus a “farmer.” The hunter (what we refer to as a new business developer) is characterized by those who are motivated by new clients, opportunities, and challenges. These are the salespeople who move from deal to deal and always keep their eye on the next win. Successful new business developers are wired to always be networking. They are good at problem solving and they are comfortable taking risks.
Often contrasted with the hunter is the farmer (also known as the account manager). The account manager builds long-term loyalty and repeat business with clients. Successful account managers are able to be advocates for their customers. They are patient and persistent, good at managing their time, and possess strong interpersonal and teaming skills.
Let’s suppose you run a sales organization. Your top producers in new business development (NBD) generate $2 million each and your top producers in account management (AM) generate $3 million each. After looking at these numbers, your CEO decides to reassign the 20 top NBD producers to the AM group, hoping to increase overall revenue by 50 percent – from $40 million to $60 million.
However, according to our research, only two of the newly assigned sales professionals would become top producers in the AM group (generating $3 million each) while an additional six would become merely dependable producers generating around $1 million each. The other 12 would likely fail to make even $1 million, so let’s estimate them at half a million each. In this scenario, reassigning the top producers from an NBD role to an AM role in an attempt to increase sales from $40 million to $60 million could end up reducing sales from $40 million to $18 million.
What to Do When the Right Person Is in the Wrong Sales Role: Three Choices
If you recognize that you currently have the right person (or people) in the wrong sales role, you have three choices.
1. Re-assign the person to a role that is a better match.
With this decision, you can leverage the seller’s talent by reassigning them to a role that complements the person’s strengths and skillset. The challenge here is that you’ll then have an empty position and need to find someone else with the right skillset for the old role.
2. Start over by actively seeking new talent and replacing the person in the position.
The downside to this choice is the time, energy, and money spent on rehiring for the position. If your company can afford the loss of these three limited resources, then this may be a good option.
3. Use assessment data and predictive talent analytics to restructure your whole sales force.
Wondering if you have multiple sellers in the wrong roles? A talent audit can provide you a viewpoint of the competencies of your entire sales team – along with predictions of each person’s capacity for different sales roles.
Never Put the Right Person in the Wrong Role Again
To ensure you put the right people in the right roles in the future, the best strategy is to look at your data and develop ideal profiles for each sales position. Assessment and performance data can help you determine the competencies you need for each of your sales roles. Actively use the right role profile each time you seek to fill a sales position. A structured interview process coupled with assessment data ensures the best chance at putting the right person in the right role.