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  • Duane Cashin

Who is to blame for lack of performance, the salesperson or the company?

Updated: Feb 17



Imagine for a moment the following scenario:

A salesperson comes to you having been wildly successful at another company. His references are impeccable, and he’s produced results you could only dream of. You put him through your traditional interview process and hire him with great excitement. Three months later, he’s closed almost nothing for you. His pipeline is empty, and everyone is growing frustrated with his lack of performance. You find yourself considering letting this “all-star” go. Sound familiar?

This situation reveals an age-old problem for sales organizations: Why do salespeople succeed in some places and not others? And, when salespeople are underperforming, are they responsible, or is it your company, culture, marketing, or products and services that are responsible? 

(Incidentally, you can also ask the question when salespeople are doing well. Who gets the credit?)

My partner organization, Objective Management Group, provides some insight. Using data from an assessed 1.9 million salespeople, sales managers, and sales VPs, OMG’s data concludes that salespeople who work for industry leaders do well because of their company's reputation, advertising, and offerings.

In underdog companies (meaning those pricier than the competition, high-ticket, a new company, new technology, pioneer, etc.), when salespeople are underperforming, it is usually because of the salespeople themselves, not the company.

Why is this? 

The answer lies in the nature of the sales role.

You already know that sales is not like any other profession.

Salespeople don’t get to jump from company to company and expect to be successful “just because”. Success at one company does not automatically translate to success at another. Sales is challenging and continues to become more so every day. 

The question you really need to address is how to make sure all new-hires at your company are successful.

The solution is relatively simple: You must make dramatic improvements in sales selection and development.

Specifically, you must follow the best practices for the sales selection process, on-boarding, and ongoing development.

OMG's data also shows that 86% of all sales managers don't perform any of those three roles very well. Do you? ​

Hiring the wrong candidate costs time, money, and endless frustration.

When you are ineffective at selecting the right salespeople, you also become ineffective at coaching, which is the foundation of ongoing development.

You simply cannot train the wrong candidate. 

So, stop worrying about who is to blame for poor sales performance.

Focusing on that leads you down the rabbit hole of chasing solutions that aren’t very likely to help you.

Instead, tackle the problem before it starts with proper candidate selection and onboarding, and then consistent development.

​We’re here to help.

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