A time capsule: Memories of developing successful sales teams.

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

I was recently rummaging around my makeshift office* and came across a very neat stack of papers held together with a large paperclip; on further inspection I just started to smile. It was one of those smiles that come with grand memories, special moments, and one’s refection on personal growth.

This stack of paper span about five years and in its totality could be called a “Sales Team Development Program”; it represented the iterative events that started with a dramatic expansion of an Inside Sales Team, included the development of an inside sales training program, and finished with the creation of a development program that included the hiring, training and strategic deployment of outside sales representatives. It contained the original “pitch slide”, detailed sales reports, an overview of the development program, people metrics, insight into managing the Y Generation, performance dashboards, “hits & misses”, recommendation slides, and a picture of the original inside sales team.

It was the time capsule from a very exciting time.

As you would expect, there were ample revenue metrics... revenue to plan, revenue growth, revenue by person, etcetera (there are many ways to look at revenue data it seems), but what also struck me was the amount of information and thinking we had regarding people, their development, and culture - I have always believed “people are everything" but can't help wonder if my beliefs shaped the documents or vice versa... I suspect a little of both.

Armed upfront with the competencies needed to be successful in the role, I would hire and on-board people who showed abilities to develop into those competencies, were effective communicators, would fit into the culture (team), and had the potential to be promoted (exported) into advanced roles. An effective hire was important.

As important as an effective hire was, development of that hire was imperative. 

Development is the socialization of behaviours and competencies that leads to a highly skilled team, higher productivity, low unwanted turnover and a culture of excellence. Each team member is taken through an iterative process of Assessment / Planning / Implementation and Rhythm to develop competency and behaviour; a positive impact would be seen as the momentum of competency success increased, not only with the individual but the overall team. I should point out when I say positive impact I'm specifically referring to revenue growth and over plan performance.

Some of the competencies evolved over the years, such as SPIN selling changing to PSS or calling out Revenue Plan Achievement in a clearer fashion (in the beginning it was part of Accelerating/Closing) but I never changed the framework for developing successful sales teams. It just seemed to work.

I get that people development is time consuming and can get in the way of "hitting the number" or the rigor of those weekly deep dive forecasting calls with finance, but as my time capsule has reminded me, a well developed team can make "hitting the number" much, much easier.


* It seems my office is now wherever my laptop is but I still have a designated area for my printer and important files. As a note to myself, I should look through those files to see if they really are that important.