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Sales Organizations Are Evolving—Here’s How to Get the Most from Your Sales Talent

The world is in constant change, and the impact is seen on businesses globally every day. What hasn’t changed is the power of data and the importance of understanding the sales talent you have within your organization. We share how to start a sales transformation strategy and identify sales competencies to improve sales team performance and maximize their impact within your business.

The Way We Buy and Sell has Changed

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a significant shift within sales organizations, which like most industries, was forced to pivot during the global pandemic. Moving from face-to-face interactions and in person meetings to virtual engagements as one such example, which had several implications for sales teams.

This resulted in significant changes including longer sales cycles, the rise of sales technologies, high-powered analytics, automation, high customer centricity and digital sales transformation¹—all creating different expectations from sales teams.

Along with the changes to sales organizations, there was also a change in buyers and their behavior including:

  • Buyers are more informed than ever before
  • Buyers want clarity and simplification

  • Buyers are keen to partner closely and want to have meaningful interactions based off an understanding of their needs

  • Up to 86% of buyers want personalization and an experience centered around real value creation and are willing to pay more for this²

  • Up to 89% of buyers are more likely to consider a brand if a seller changes the buyer’s way of thinking³

Where Should You Start with
Sales Transformation?

While we may not be able to predict the future, we can be ready for what a change might mean for our organization. With talent data increasing in importance across the entire organization, a great way to start is by adopting a data-driven approach to understanding what talent lives within your organization, their natural strengths and development opportunities—and how to close these gaps.

A common question is what sales competencies do we have? When business strategy evolves or changes outside the organization take place, understanding your current talent makes it easier to understand the impact for the business and actions needed, both now and the future.

These are key questions an organization should be able to answer:

  • Sales Success Profiles
    • What traits or behaviors are most common among my top performers?

    • Do certain characteristics lead to success in specific roles?

  • Succession Planning
    • How do I place sellers in the roles they are naturally suited?

    • How do I leverage natural strengths to ensure future success?

  • Sales Enablement
    • How do I get more sellers to goal?

    • How do I provide targeted development to improve performance?

  • Sales Transformation
    • Who on my team has the potential to thrive in the new digital sales landscape?

    • Who is unlikely to succeed?

  • Sales Workforce
    • How do my teams compare externally?

    • Where are my talent strengths and gaps?

What Sales Competencies Are Critical To Sales Success?

Given the changes to the external environment and buyer behavior, SHL conducted a study of more than 14,000 B2B sales professionals across 18 global sales functions to understand the characteristics of top sales talent.

Following a science-based approach collecting manager performance ratings and hard sales metrics across more than 150 KPI’s, SHL experts identified three broad macro factors and 8 specific sales competencies that predict sales and job performance.

Here’s what we found - some traditional sales competencies remain important, including:

  • Sales Drive (Sellers that scored high on “Sales Drive” outperformed the average by 84% in $ sold)
  • Sales Focus (Sellers that scored high on “Sales Focus” were 3x more likely to achieve quota)
  • Achievement Orientation (Sellers that scored high on “Achievement Orientation” were 65% more likely to be “high performers”)

But there are emerging sales competencies that differentiate high performance, these are:

  • Sales Adaptability, Resilience and Agility (Resilience was the most impactful predictor of YOY quota achievement)

The results of our study revealed the following against our new Sales Transformation model:

  • High scorers were 66% more likely to achieve top performance ratings

  • High scorers were 33% more likely to achieve high productivity ratings

  • High scorers sold more than twice as much as low scorers

A successful modern sales organization needs to focus on both these traditional and new emerging sales competencies to unlock the most from their sales population.

Learn more about where your organization stacks up today and get the most out of your sales population.


¹Future of B2B Sales: Building the right team and talent to drive growth in an uncertain environment:

²18 Essential B2B Sales Statistics: 

³LinkedIn Global State of Sales Report

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Suhail Ramkilawan

With over 10 years of experience, Suhail is a Global Talent Management Solution Leader and a Registered Psychometrist. He is experienced in providing data-driven people measurement solutions to answer key talent questions, and support talent management initiatives within organizations. He is passionate about utilizing technology, data and insights to inform people decisions and drive business success.

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