Why understanding your salespeople is just as important as understanding your client base.

November 17, 2020 Rob Sheehan

First Published on LinkedIn


Never has it been more important to understand the cause and effect of sales. The entire sales eco-system can be analyzed to understand what works best - and what should work better. Companies that get sales right understand their client base by using data analytics to service their needs effectively. At the same time these companies better understand their salespeople and performance too.

Peter Bentley, Chief Commercial Officer of Aon’s Human Capital Solutions, asks companies to understand what performance measurement tells them. “If a salesperson makes 100 calls, gets 2 potential customers answering the phone and makes 1 sale, is that performance reflective of the salesperson’s abilities, or the environment they’re operating in? If we know that the vast majority of salespeople don’t hit their targets, does that mean the targets are wrong or the salespeople aren’t the best in the environment? Perhaps some people should be in relationship sales, or perhaps they’re not aligned to the clients’ needs?”

But how would a company know?

Understanding who is going to fit and perform in a company’s environment is possible with scientifically-backed talent assessment data.

Kate Cramer is the Head of Aon’s Performance & Analytics Practice, which supports financial institutions’ sales processes. She explains, “By understanding who you’ve got in sales seats and the impact they have on the business, it’s possible to hire more of those types of people, while exiting those who are not performing as needed. That’s a starting point. Understanding ‘what good looks like’ in this way means it’s possible to link to measurements in other ways, paying the strong performers with appropriate incentives so they stay with the company, and creating a culture that aligns to business strategy.”

Understanding who is going to fit and perform in a company’s environment is possible with scientifically-backed talent assessment data. Cramer says, “Most hiring managers say they can tell who will make a good salesperson as well as fit their organization - and they’re probably right 50% of the time. It usually happens on gut feel, but companies that put a layer of objectivity – or science - behind it, get it right repeatedly.”

Indeed, hiring on intuition is only getting harder as jobs change in ways we can’t yet see. How can a hiring manager recruit well based on gut feeling when roles – and necessary capabilities are changing, and companies and roles are adapting? Will a person hired today perform well in two years’ time? Yet getting this right - assessing and hiring candidates based on a clear knowledge of whether they are a good fit now, can perform well and can adapt to potential changes - enables sales leaders to allocate resources far more effectively.

Bentley brings in another view, “Assessment is also a very useful tool for differentiation. If you look at competitive environments, lots of firms do the same thing, perhaps with varying differences on product, brand or story. But by looking at resourcing through a different lens, a company can gain an edge. Very few companies hire the right capabilities to get the most success, yet in this way they can align strategy to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to understand repeatable successes and manage the entire process.”

The data insights from talent assessments aims to improve sales effectiveness and in turn, drive revenue. To help businesses hire the right salespeople, Aon has created an off-the-shelf Salesforce Effectiveness assessment process for hiring managers, so they can cost-effectively understand who the best people are for their needs, creating the teams needed to drive results.

It guides companies through the four key sales processes: creating opportunities, generating solutions, closing deals and delivery – where each has different skills and competencies needed to succeed in the role. The process helps hiring managers assess flexible, future-focused and results-focused sales people that will uniquely fit the organization’s needs.

Get in touch to learn more about how Aon’s Human Capital Solutions can help align your sales talent strategy to your business strategy.
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