If you had only $1 to invest in the development of a salesperson, how would you spend the money?
As are most decisions in business, it’s not a simple matter of choosing among a number of possibilities.
There isn’t only one answer. It’s normally a blend of the options available.
The most important criteria for choosing the “right” solution depends less on what the sales pundits pronounce as the essentials of sales, and more on the strategic context of the organization.
The approaches vary with each organization; a boiler plate solution is not only misleading, it can lead to dysfunctional sales results.
Sales does not operate in a vacuum; its function is to deliver their part of the strategic game plan of the organization.
The appropriate mix of building on strengths, eliminating weaknesses or acquiring new competencies is driven by what the organization is trying to achieve.
Decide on WHAT has to be done by your organizational strategy and THEN, if you must, go to the experts to help you get there.
If you are a sales manager here’s the process I suggest you go through as you create a development plan for each one of your salespeople.
First, double back on the strategy of your organization. Make sure you understand EXACTLY what it seeks to achieve.
Your role is to translate the strategy to the sales tactical level. Determine the role of sales in delivering the strategy. Unless you understand in detail what sales must do to fulfill its strategic role you will have no context to decide how your sales force should be “developed”.
Break down the sales role into the specific competencies each salesperson must have to contribute to the overall sales role.
Look at each salesperson in terms of their specific skills and competencies. Where they are in alignment with the requirements; where do they fall short; where are there new competencies that need to be acquired?
For each salesperson, create a development plan based on your findings. Each person will have a different mix of “build on strengths” vs. “eliminate weaknesses” vs. “acquire new competencies” based on where they are today.
A one size fits all simply doesn’t work. Everyone is at a different stage of development relative to the organization’s strategy.
And as the strategy changes (and it will) sales development plans for each individual will likely require change as well.