This month, we changed our viewpoint. We’ve been focused heavily on why so many salespeople change jobs or are at best disengaged from their roles. Now, we’ve gone to our client base and senior level candidates (SVP Sales, RVP Sales and Sales Directors) to discuss their sales teams.

More specifically, we wanted to know what the perception of sales teams were from a hiring standpoint. Three things are asked quite a bit when we do an evaluation of a sales team. Questions that we hear quite a bit: “Did we make a good hire?”, “Are my people working hard?”, “What do I do to with my team now”?

We had a hunch we’d see numbers like these based on a phenomena we’ve witnessed over and over, but they were skewed more than we’d imagined they would be. Again, we’re not rocket scientists, but we did select a wide ranging group of leaders to pull our data from and we think our data is solid. Any guesses why there’s the twisted results?

To start, let’s talk about the people who are being polled. These are senior leaders in the Managed Services, Cloud and Virtualization space. We polled 17 people with teams ranging in size from four to sixty-one. Their average salesperson earns just in excess of $102,000 total comp ($102,244 to be exact). The top earner on any of teams, as reported by the leaders, was just over $1.1mm, while there were several new folks on these teams that were earning well under $50k. 80% of them earned between $81,000 & $160,000 – this was our target group.

We asked the leaders to eliminate two groups from their opinions – the rainmakers, or top 10% of earners, and the newbies, defined as anyone who had been on the team less than 6 months. Then we asked them the following 3 highly unscientific, but noteworthy questions:

How Do You Rank Your Team?

What did we find? I was going to wait until the next blog post to clue you into the numbers, and hear what some of the guesstimates were, but instead, we’re putting the numbers in this one. We’ll discuss what we believe to be the cause of the seeming discrepancy in the numbers in the next post.

Here’s the summary:

1. There is a considerable amount of hiring regret (29%). Wow. So, out of tenured salespeople that aren’t killing it (remember, no rainmakers or newbies were included) almost 1 in 3 were considered hiring mistakes (of course not our placements though…we’d know that in the first 90 days!). Does this say something towards the hiring process or the sales team?

2. Only 41% of the sales forces were ranked at average or better work ethic than the competition. That’s 59% of the group that were what we’d consider “lazy” in the eyes of the leaders. Ugh.

3. Finally, here’s our biggest surprise. Even though we’ve just found out the above numbers, the team rankings (based on our definitions above) were:

A Players: 19%

B Players: 61%

C Players: 20%

WHOA. What just happened here? Sales leaders have just told us that 29% of their hires they WOULD NOT HAVE MADE if they knew what they now know. They really want better work ethic out of their teams and question a large number of their team’s work ethics (at least compared to their perception of the competition). BUT, they only consider 1 in 5 as needing immediate improvement or an exit plan. Beyond that, they expect almost 1 in 5 to become rainmakers…ummmm.

What gives? What is the mystic issue here? We think we know why these numbers seem so crazy. What is it? Ideas? We’ll give our take on it in our next blog post… We even addressed it and asked for input from a few long standing clients. Stay tuned.


In the mean time, what do you think? Leave a comment below.