The Sales Force Evaluation – Not Everyone Appreciates the Findings

In the May 13 post, More Hirable Sales Candidates, there were some controversial comments posted by a disgruntled sales candidate who didn’t get a job and blamed the assessment. As long as we’re on the subject of disgruntled, perhaps we should discuss the very small minority of clients who actually dislike the findings of the sales force evaluation. It happens very infrequently, only two or three times each year; but when it does, there are usually similar circumstances:

  • the salespeople report directly to this person, usually the sales manager. In most successful sales force evaluations the client is the CEO, President or VP with a layer of sales management between the salespeople and the client;
  • the sales manager is more interested in having his sales management style, systems, strategies, tactics and processes validated instead of learning and embracing that which should change;
  • they look for something, anything, within the hundreds of pages of findings and recommendations, with which they can disagree in an attempt to prove that we don’t know what they’re trying to do. An example of this from this year’s second unhappy client: he cited our finding that most of his salespeople had Need for Approval. When we provide findings, like Need for Approval, we put it in the context of sales and sales management. We explain how it impacts the pipeline, prospecting, advancing the sales cycle, closing, and handling stalls, put-offs and objections. This client, in claiming that his salespeople don’t need to prospect for new business, used that as his argument that we don’t understand his business.
  • they won’t listen to explanations of the findings, instead, choosing to jump to conclusions about what the findings mean and how they don’t apply. This client chose to ignore our explanation of the finding that his salespeople had Non-Supportive Buy Cycles. Instead, he ignorantly decided that we didn’t understand his sell cycle which can be impacted by a salesperson’s Buy Cycle but is otherwise unrelated to the Buy Cycle. He should have been able to understand why his salespeople have trouble closing but he chose not learn from the finding.
  • We discovered that his people had Difficulty Talking about Money. Because he doesn’t have his salespeople check for budgets, he found this to be an unnecessary finding. Instead he should have realized that he has his people wasting a ton of time by not qualifying his prospects. Shouldn’t be a surprise that he has the same problem.

I could go on and on but I’m sure you get the point. The lesson? It can always be a great help to evaluate the sales force and look at the people, systems and strategies. It will always produce wonderful, timely, relevant, powerful, useful, actionable findings. It is up to you to put yourself in the right frame of mind to accept the information in the right context. Information is only as good as your willingness to accept it, act on it, and make change.

(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.