First of all I guess you might wonder why I used the term ‘high performance’ in the headline.  What does that mean?  I see a few characteristics that distinguish a high performance sales team from others and capability frameworks contribute to the development and sustenance of high performance in any team.

One attribute of high performance is measurement.  Each sales person should be measuring themselves against key performance targets and the team is measured collectively.  These measurements flow up to management and are linked to the business strategy.  High performance sales people strive to nail targets and prefer this to floating in an undefined operating environment.

Collaboration is sometimes a neglected capability in the highly competitive sales profession.  However one thing I took away from attending  Dreamforce ’12 last year was this is no longer negotiable.  Collaboration is imperative both within the business as well as outward to prospects and clients.  The range of technology platforms and collaboration tools is staggering.  The sales professional must not only understand how to use the technology, she must also be able to leverage its power in a competitive sales cycle.

Collaboration also extends to the capture and sharing of best practices in the sales team.  Knowledge capture and sharing somewhat mitigates risks of ‘brain drain’ when high performance sales people move on.  This knowledge also facilitates more rapid on-boarding of new hires.

Clear strategy is based on a cascade of goals and objectives from the c-suite to the sales professional.  The sale professional must have the capability to translate the business strategy to their operating strategy.  The operating strategy is often defined at sales team level but not always in the case of persons managing large territories or working with a small number of clients in high value enterprise sales.   The capability framework must include translating strategy to tactics and these tactics incorporated in an operational plan.

Tactical execution is one that capability that is easily identified in our behavioural assessment tools.  The best strategy and tactics are worthless without execution and sadly this is one capability that is rare in the world of sales professionals.  There are plenty of people out there who work ‘ad-hoc’ and seem to make some sales but these people are not high performance and they tend to be more difficult to manage and measure.

The capabilities around information management usually become obvious when we have a look at a business’s CRM.  Information is often old, inaccurate or insufficient.  The power that can be leveraged from a well -managed CRM is too great to compromise.  The capabilities that support this include personal management and work flow practices.

Each of these attributes and possibly others must be included in the capability framework.  The capability framework will greatly enhance recruitment and on-boarding of new sales team members.  I use a tool to provides a behavioural analysis against each capability.  When a shortlist is determined, each person is assessed against the defined capability framework.  This has reciprocal benefits for the candidates and the company.  The candidate is clear on the expectations of the position and is provided a scientific assessment of their behavioural match to the framework.  The company reduces the risk of bad hires and the huge cost and cultural impacts these have.

When it comes to developing a capability framework it is a huge advantage to have a technology solution to support it.  A learning management system is the most compelling platform but others include some performance management systems and some HRIS software.   Regardless of what you use to create the capability framework, you need to consider the following;

  • Link the framework to job titles.
  • Ensure there are learning and development opportunities to support and enhance the capabilities.
  • Development plans should have at least some focus on the capability framework if not be totally focused on it.
  • The performance management process must be integrated with the capability framework.

Get in touch if you would like to explore developing a capability framework for your sales team or any other part of your organisation.

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