Ask any sales leader what their biggest challenge is and it’s likely the majority will answer hiring and retaining a team of top performers. Given improvements in the overall economy, what was never an easy task has gotten even harder. New sales opportunities are plentiful, and competition for the best reps has become nothing short of cutthroat.

But smart recruiting is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Once hired, according to CSO Insights, the average turnover rate for salespeople is 22%. Other research puts that number as high as 34%, particularly in competitive, high-growth sectors like technology, financial services and life sciences.

While not all of these separations will be voluntary (let’s face it, despite our best efforts, sometimes we just make a bad hiring decision…) there are things sales leaders can do proactively to improve their odds, namely architecting a data-driven sales development approach that ensures they can recruit, advance and retain a winning sales force.

Like all good sales outcomes, this exercise starts with asking key questions about your existing talent development efforts. For example:

  • Can we articulate the characteristics, skills and experience of our “ideal” sales rep?
  • What sales training programs do we need to develop these competencies within the team?
  • How can we keep a pulse on our sales development efforts and ensure our reps are developing as fast as our market, buyers, and competitors demand?
  • How do we ensure that our efforts are driving long-term behavior change?
  • What role will coaching play in monitoring and reinforcing the right behaviors?
  • How will we measure the impact of our sales development efforts on key business goals such as revenue and profit achievement?

Qstream customers are tackling these challenges head-on with the help of our sales capabilities engine. Our data insights are enabling sales leaders, as well as their counterparts in sales operations, to create a culture of “always on” rep development that informs management decisions, and provides measurable evidence that your reps possess the skills needed to win with customers.

Here’s just a sample of the sales development tasks we’re helping our customers address to support 2016 planning:

1.  Develop individual coaching plans. Most sales managers understand it’s their responsibility to coach. Yet often, unless they observe a specific behavior, they’re not sure what to coach on. Qstream gives managers a unique and continuous perspective of their reps’ capabilities. Our analytics engine highlights for the manager that one rep needs help with pricing, while another is struggling with competitive differentiation. This data cannot only become the basis of an individual coaching plan, but a manager can actually initiate the necessary coaching action directly from their Qstream dashboard with just a few clicks of the mouse.

2.  Assess under-performing reps. Quota performance is a lagging indicator, and used alone, is not a reliable predictor of future potential. So how does a sales manager diagnose the underlying causes of a rep’s poor performance, and make a good decision about future investments to help them improve? For many customers, Qstream’s engagement data has proven to be a leading indicator of a rep’s motivation and willingness to grow, while proficiency data gives a detailed picture of current knowledge and skills gaps, and over time, a rep’s future ability to learn. When viewed alongside critical performance and productivity metrics, sales managers gain a more holistic picture that can guide investment decisions.

3.  Identify the optimal hiring profile. Today, new sales hires can come from a diverse number of sources – formal and informal, paid and unpaid. When one client needed to significantly ramp their recruiting efforts, Qstream data from a recent onboarding initiative was able to quickly confirm that their most successful reps were recruited from one specific industry competitor. By comparing recruiting sources with proficiency and performance data, the company was also able to develop a strong competency profile for the reps most likely to succeed in their environment.

4.  Speed time to productivity. Studies show that organizations with continuous sales development strategies experience 54% greater new hire productivity and 50% greater new hire retention. A data-driven approach using Qstream helps front-line managers assess the capabilities of sales reps over time as they navigate their progression across the onboarding, training and field support stages of sales development.

What sales development questions are you trying to answer to ensure achievement of your goals in 2016? Contact us to get the conversation started, or request a demo to see for yourself how Qstream is building high-performance sales teams.

Share it with all your network