A colleague forwarded to me a copy of the the Accenture report Connecting the Dots on Sales Performance. The report, which analyses the 2012 CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Study, is a bit outdated, but still contains many useful insights.

We have pulled some quotes and added our own commentary.

The report suggests that changing customer behaviors, the blurring lines of multiple industries and a shift from traditional to solution sales are making it difficult for employers to hire and retain the right sales people.

CSO Insights 2012 data shows an overall lack of rigor in sales organization acquisition and retention processes. Although a full 65.5 percent of CSOs believe that a scientific approach, such as using a competency testing to hire sales representatives, delivers greater sales effectiveness, the data shows that very few organizations are actually pursuing a more systematic hiring practice.

Peak’s Take: This is consistent with our own findings. Organizations that have a structured formal approach to sales hiring are the exception not the rule, yet it is hard imagine anything more critical to sales success than getting the right sales talent onto your team. Not surprisingly, we often see a correlation between a lack of rigor in sales hiring with a lack of rigor in other aspects of the sales organization including sales management and processes. And consequently mediocre results.

On the fact that hiring success is improving:

The 2012 data shows that more organizations are improving at hiring the right sales people with 35.3 percent of CSOs saying that they consistently hire representatives who succeed at selling.

Peak’s Take: This means that an alarming 65% of organizations are not consistently hiring reps that succeed. There is lots of work to be done in the average organization.

On the percentage of reps who are reaching their quotas:

The percentage of sales representatives attaining quota is not improving. In the last three years, a startling 36 to 47 percent of sales representatives have not reached their annual sales quota numbers.

Peak’s Take: It is not surprising that the percentage of sales reps that are succeeding does not align with the number of sales managers who who claim to be successful at hiring. Sales managers are a competitive bunch and I have met very that would admit a major portion of their team was missing targets, even if that was in fact the truth. It will also take time for improved hiring practices to fully impact the overall performance of sales teams.

On staff turnover and the ability of sales organizations to retain sales reps:

Organizations are continuing to experience high attrition problems. CSO Insights 2012 data indicates that the annual sales representative voluntary and involuntary turnover is at 21 percent.

Peak’s Take: The issue here is usually not only the lost staff and the sales production they represent (the best sales talent tends to consolidate at the best companies), but also the enormous lost investment in hiring, training, managing and developing sales reps that  must be replaced after hiring them.

On the bottom line impact of effective sales hiring:

According to Accenture analysis, since talent hiring and retention policies impact as much as 10 percent of the top line per year, it is imperative for CSOs to use scientific profiling to reduce attrition rates

Peak’s Take: This is the knockout punch. 10% is enormous. Even a small improvement in sales hiring effectiveness will have a huge impact on the success of most organizations. The sales leaders who invest in their sales recruiting engine and place a priority on a structured approach to sales hiring will hire better reps and drive superior sales results.

See the full report here: Connecting the Dots on Sales Performance

To your success!


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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