Golden Nuggets from the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study

Dave Kurlan, Objective Management Group

I had a chance to review the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study and extracted some fascinating data. I thought it might be interesting to take their data, overlay some of Objective Management Group's (OMG) data, and see what we can take away from that.

Tick-Tock

The report reveals that open sales positions remain so for an average of nearly 4 months and 9 months pass before a new hire achieves full productivity. That's over a year! This particular finding is a moving target and somewhat reflective of the relatively small number of proactive sales candidates and far smaller percentage of good ones. The report shows that only 22.6% of organizations believe that hiring is an organizational strength, so this recruiting performance shouldn't surprise anyone. OMG has a finding called FIOF (Figure it out Factor) which correlates to how quickly a candidate will ramp up to speed. Candidates who come up to speed more quickly than typical sales candidates score 75 or better and only 25% of all candidates have this as a strength.

Not Nutritional

Companies lack a basic understanding of what causes salespeople to succeed.
Dave Kurlan

Western diets are notorious for their inclusion of unhealthy, unnecessary, processed, fatty food instead of healthy whole foods. Similarly, companies listed sales requirements for new salespeople that were filled with unnecessary requirements (ie., business degree from a university, college degree of any kind, STEM degree, industry sales experience, emotional intelligence, etc.) instead of strong and broad capabilities in the 21 Sales Core Competencies. This suggests that companies still lack a basic understanding of what causes salespeople to succeed.

Tooling

An equal number of companies use candidate assessments as those who don't. However, those who do use assessments have 61% quota attainment and 14.6% attrition, versus 49% quota attainment and 19.8% attrition for those who don't use assessments. Companies that use assessments are 25% more successful at quota achievement and that data is not even for any particular assessment. Imagine how much better the results are for the companies that use OMG's accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessments. Data from companies who have hired salespeople that were recommended by OMG shows an attrition rate of only 8% and quota attainment of 88%.

Put Me in Coach

Just 10% of the companies said that coaching was a strength. That jives pretty well with OMG's data from its evaluations of more than 25,000 sales forces. Only 10% of all Sales Managers have the Sales Coaching competency as a strength but most of that group are in the top 20% of all sales managers.

Two-Step

38% of companies reported that they have a sales process. Respondents appeared to be overly optimistic as OMG's data shows that only 27% of companies actually have a formal, structured sales process.

Right Down the Pipe

20% claimed that pipeline management is a strength at their company but that claim is even more optimistic than the dance above. Remember, their report is built from a survey so it's vulnerable to optimistic misstatements. OMG's sales force evaluation data reveals that the actual number is 8%!

In conclusion, I'm still disappointed that these numbers aren't improving more quickly. I believe that there are several reasons for this, but my top 3 are:

  1. Too many sales leaders have large egos that don't allow them to ask for or receive help, believing that they and they alone are responsible for, and capable of moving the needle
  2. The C Suite often delegates responsibility for change but change won't occur until the commitment to change is demonstrated to the sales organization from those at the very top of the company
  3. Many companies are well intentioned about change but don't always make the best choices and don't always see those choices through. Exhibit #1 is CRM. My observation of CRM selection, installation, training, customization, integration, acceptance, and adoption is that it has been nothing short of an industry-wide cluster fuck. Please excuse my language.

Of course there are more reasons than these 3 but most of them, when looked at objectively, can be traced back to these three. For example, we can consider the people, coaching, training, strategy, systems, processes, expectations, accountability, motivation, culture, and more, but as soon as you seek the cause we must look to the original three reasons.

In the end, it's not usually an unwillingness to spend money to improve sales selection, provide the right tools, hire the right sales leaders, consultants and trainers. It's the lack of unconditional commitment to get it right.

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Article originally published Published on October 24th, 2018 on
Dave Kurlan's Blog
Dave Kurlan, Objective Management Group
Published November 25, 2018, written by

Dave Kurlan, Objective Management Group

Dave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, best selling author, successful entrepreneur and sales development industry pioneer. The founder and CEO of the Objective Management Group, Inc., the leading developer of sales assessment tools, headquartered in Westboro, Massachusetts. He is also the CEO of Kurlan & Associates, Inc., a leading sales force development firm. He has 3 decades of experience in all facets of sales development, including consulting, training, coaching, selection, strategy, systems, processes, and metrics.

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