Can a sales force be “good,” yet not achieve its quota? Is a sales force that does hit its quota always “good?”
There are many factors to consider when answering these questions. Sometimes, companies gain a short-term product advantage over the competition, which makes hitting goals far easier. Also, under certain market conditions, customer demand for products becomes high. Either of those scenarios, and several others, can make a mediocre sales organization look better than it is. Conversely, a good sales force can be hobbled by factors involving products, economics or market forces that make it especially difficult to achieve an annual goal.
So, if you’re wondering whether your sales force is “good,” establishing your measure on quota attainment alone is probably not the best way to look at the issue. In fact, quota attainment just raises more questions: Is the revenue you’re earning the right revenue? Are your salespeople selling the right solutions, to the right customers, in the right way? How comfortable are you that your team would be successful at launching new products, attacking new markets or calling on a different customer set?
How trainable is your sales team? A “good” sales force is adaptable to changes that occur in the marketplace and to new assignments your company asks them to take on. How flexible is your team when called upon to make necessary changes in their sales approach?
If your salespeople aren’t adding value, why do you need them?
Would you consider your sales force a competitive weapon? All of us want a sales force that gives us a genuine competitive advantage – a sales force that adds significant value to our solutions. If that’s the case, the question becomes: How capable is your sales force of differentiating your products and services … even when they aren’t very different? If your salespeople can’t do that, then how do they add value – and, to be blunt, why do you need them?
That is the real starting point for discussing the question of how good your sales force is. Here’s a survey that helps answer it. Rank your sales force on the following criteria by circling the number that best describes your team:
My Team’s Total = ________
How did you score your team’s “goodness”? Use the following ranking to measure their current level:
This survey obviously isn’t perfect. It doesn’t assign weights to any of the individual areas we measure – and you might consider some areas more important than others. The survey may not include every topic that you could include in an evaluation of your team. Perhaps your salespeople hit their numbers but don’t meet your expectations for accomplishing the company’s business strategy. Perhaps their sales behaviors aren’t everything you would like them to be.
Regardless, this survey gives you an opportunity to look at measures above and beyond quota that you could improve. The bottom line? If your team hits their numbers and you truly believe they represent a genuine competitive advantage for your company, then you’re in a great position, and you’ve done a commendable job of sales leadership.