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  • Andrew Dugdale

Sales talent: the final profit frontier – part 1

Updated: Jul 5, 2020

Sales: the last 'virgin department' in most organisations

Hiring, developing and retaining salespeople have been something of a dark art. It’s often expensive and inefficient, but new talentmanagement techniques are bringing us into the 21st century.

In their 2015 Harvard Business Review article “The Best Ways to Hire Salespeople”, Harvard Business School’s Frank Cespedes and Daniel Weinfurter, who is an Adjunct Lecturer at The Kellogg School of Management, discussed the fact that, while many firms talk about talent management, few deal systematically with a basic issue: average annual turnover in sales is 25-30%. Not only is that expensive; it’s also inefficient – so surely there must be a better way.

Talking to the International Journal of Sales Transformation, Dr Cespedes is clear: “This means the equivalent of the entire sales force must be recruited, trained, and socialised in that company’s sales process every four years or so. A resource allocation of that magnitude also makes (or, should make) sales talent a C-level issue.”

Back in 1997, and again in 2001, McKinsey & Co highlighted the so-called “War for Talent” with significant work that helped shaped corporate thinking into this decade:organizations must constantly rethink the way they plan toattract, motivate, and retain employees. Many businesses like to claim that their people are theirmost important asset and that talent is at the top of theiragenda, particularly since McKinsey alumnus Jim Collins wrotehis seminal work Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... And Others Don’t. He said: “We expected that good-to-greatleaders would begin by setting a new vision and strategy. Wefound instead that they first got the right people on the bus, thewrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats– and then they figured out where to drive it.” ... [download the full article here]

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