Aligning Performance Levers for Breakthrough Sales Results

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With a few minor changes for publication vs. presentation, this is a presentation that I gave recently at the Dallas ASTD Southwest Learning Summit for their sales training track.

It’s difficult to cram 15 years of progressive learning into a presentation, but I have been working on codifying and documenting my work methods and processes for the book. It’s going slowly, but this is the basis for it all, although it’s missing a lot of detail yet. 

I’m presenting a slightly different version on September 16 at Profiles International Executive Client Summit in Dallas (9/14-16) in their sales effectiveness track, which should be blast.

Here’s just a snippet of a few interesting things I’ve learned over the years:

Who’s On First?

Accurate Performer Selection and putting people in categories appropriately drives much of this. Study the wrong people, or give emphasis to the wrong things that they do, and you will have much less impact than you’d like.

I have long since stopped asking sales leaders to tell me who is a top, average and low producer. I figure it out, and (may) allow leaders to pull people out (based on their reasoning and logic), but will rarely allow them to add people (especially to the top producer category). When you do comparisons across performer bands, it even matters which bottom producers you study. Studying low producers who don’t care or aren’t trying doesn’t prove anything. You need to find low producers who 1) aren’t new, 2) who care and 3) are trying hard, but struggle and can’t get the results that average producers get.

Who’s On The Bus?

  • Diagnosing Performance Levers
  • Documenting the differentiating best practices (based on statistical analysis) from top producers (contrasted with average and low producers)
  • Building training around the levers and best practices
  • Training sales management first (on the levers and best practices as well as how to diagnose them and coach to them)
  • Creating learning systems and transfer plans
  • and Aligning other organizational levers…

….are all very important, but they will have MUCH less impact if you don’t have the right people in frontline sales and sales management roles.Selection and Promotion methods matter.

  • Pigs don’t fly.
  • Penguins and Turkeys are birds but can’t achieve lift-off.
  • Sparrows fly but can’t outpace an Eagle.
  • If you want Eagles, hire Eagles.
  • And by the way, we all seem to know that the best sales people don’t make the best sales managers, so why the Hell do we still do that? Just stop it, for crying out loud. (Sorry Mom).

Figure out what makes a great sales manager (if it’s any different in your organization than everywhere else in the free world) and get those people in management roles. And then help them close any skill gaps. Selection, promotion and development (the people stuff) are the fuel for the engine. You can tune the car all you want, you can put new wheels on it and lube the chassis, but if you put water, juice or even single-malt scotch in the tank, you’re in a world of hurt. (Hmm. So find Eagles and feed them Gasoline. I need to stop mixing metaphors, I guess. 😉

Could You Fill That Out In Triplicate, Please?

I don’t display this in the slides but I should. People get degrees in training and there are probably billions of book pages dedicated to training and development practices. At the simplest level, I think there are really three big building blocks to make a difference. Those things are Content | Delivery | Transfer.

  • The Content needs to be right. It needs to produce results in the real world. Much of my work is centered around identifying the differentiating practices to develop great content that gets results. Performance, baby. If your content won’t make a difference, why are you wasting your time and theirs?
  • The Delivery needs to be right. Doesn’t matter whether it’s elearing, instructor-led training (ILT) in the classroom, virtual ILT, or blended methods, but the training must be designed for human consumption and effective learning. It must be chunked, sequenced and layered well, include assessments (both knowledge and skill), with as much skill practice (with feedback loops and re-application with more feedback loops) as possible.
  • Transfer needs to happen. There must be a strong plan for getting the training, with its proven content, used in the real-world. This should be built into the learning system, with reinforcement and support from management, with people being held accountable and incented appriopriately.

I’ll stop there for today. Comments always welcome and I hope someone might find this helpful.

Be safe out there,

Mike Kunkle

Contact me:
mike_kunkle at mindspring dot-com
214.494.9950 Google Voice

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