Sales Wolf Blog

The HBR Advice You Need Your Competitors to Follow

Posted by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

Feb 4, 2016 9:00:00 PM

Mediocre advice.

In their February 1, 2016 article on HBR - Hiring Star Salespeople Isn't the Best Way to Grow, Frank V. Cespedes and Jacco van der Kooj argued:

"You see Pareto’s Principle applied to sales all the time — the top 20% of a sales force produces 80% of a company’s revenues and margins — and it’s applicable in a variety of sectors. In B2B contexts, for example, rep performance in similar territories often varies by 300% between top and bottom quintiles, and in retail stores selling productivity typically varies by a factor of three to four.  So it’s no surprise that a company’s usual response to stalled growth is to hire more stars. 

There are a few problems with the hire-stars approach, however. First, there are only so many stars to go around since everyone is fighting over the same candidates.  Second, even if you do manage to hire stars, their unique skill sets may not be easily portable."

Rather than focus on finding and hiring top sales stars who are few and far between and may not work out anyways, the authors suggest, "If companies want to scale, they need to improve their sales processes.

That, my friends, is mediocre advice. This is sound advice for average companies who accept second place.

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Topics: Sales Hiring

No More Half Measures

Posted by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

Jan 27, 2016 12:00:00 PM

I binge-watched the hell out of Breaking Bad.

I stayed up way too late during the Christmas break when I shouldn't have.

Now I am sometimes find myself muttering, "Yo, yo, yo."

It's my colleague Joe's fault. 

Like Joe, I dislike wasting time. I am "that guy" who powers up Netflix and watches one or two episodes of a series and then bails.

Prior to experiencing Breaking Bad, I considered the program to be a knuckle-dragging series about someone selling Meth. I was wrong on so many levels. 

Vince Gilligan is a story-telling genius. Every Breaking Bad character is carefully woven into the story for a purpose. Blink an eye and you will miss something essential. Despite the characters making a drug that destroys so many lives, I found myself rooting for Walt, his family, Jesse, and Mike.

The 32nd episode in particular, "Half Measures", struck a nerve with me.

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Topics: Sales Management

The Ugly Truth: The Real Costs of a Bad Sales Hire

Posted by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

Jan 19, 2016 4:00:00 PM

Hiring costs are just the tip of the iceberg. 

Ask most people about what a bad sales hire costs and they immediately fixate on the hiring costs including recruitment, training, and onboarding compensation. 

Most CEOs and those in sales management will quickly spout hiring costs and stop there.

While certainly expensive, for the most part hiring costs are fixed. They are "one and done".

Those who are data-driven understand that a bad sales hire represents far, far more than one-time sunk hiring costs.

A bad sales hire represents a permanently-damaged future revenue stream.

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Topics: Sales Hiring

Your Company Has a Prospecting Problem

Posted by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

Jan 14, 2016 4:00:00 PM

How many of your salespeople are really order-takers?

Recently a Client requested sales personality assessment codes to assess sales candidates. In our conversation they shared that they had recently lost a long-term salesperson who left for "greener pastures". He didn't sound particularly upset so I pulled up the departed salesperson's assessment results to see what caliber of sales talent they were. The departing salesperson did them a favor.

I immediately said, "They didn't prospect much did they?"

"Ah. Nope. Sorry to see them go though. They sure knew a lot of people," replied the sales manager.

That is code talk for "They really didn't sell much."

I replied, "But they didn't prospect did they?"

"Not much at all."

If the salesperson wasn't prospecting by adding value to existing Customers and seeking new ones then they were order-taking. Order-takers are sales posers. They look like a real salesperson from a distance. Real salespeople prospect.

Order-takers are very expensive because they soak up a salesperson's base compensation and they miss opportunities to add value to existing and new Customers.

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Topics: Sales Management

The ROI of Hiring Only the Best Salespeople

Posted by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

Jan 7, 2016 11:00:00 AM

If you replicated your best salespeople, how much would you increase sales?

Chances are the sales increase would be significant. What are you waiting for?

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? The 80/20 rule or Pareto Principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. 

Twenty percent of all salespeople reap eighty percent of all sales results.  

In fact, the top 20th percentile of all salespeople typically outsell a MULTIPLE of that of the rest of the sales team. We often see 20th percentile salespeople produce 10-20 TIMES that of an average salesperson. 


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Topics: Sales Hiring

It's Too Late To Dramatically Improve Sales In 2016

Posted by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

Dec 29, 2015 5:15:00 PM

Now is the time to shape 2017.

Unless you have already made significant ongoing improvements to your sales talent, systems, and culture, there is little you can do to measurably move the sales revenue needle for 2016.

The sales "train" has already left the station. 2016 is largely baked in.

What is destined to happen in 2016 was put into motion 12 to 24 months ago.

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Topics: Sales Performance

The Best Christmas Present You Can Give Your Sales Team

Posted by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

Dec 21, 2015 5:00:00 PM

Is radical candor.

Right now you may be thinking, "Chris... How do "candor" and "Christmas present" fit together?"

Aside from the obvious spiritual meaning, I like to believe the spirit of Christmas is caring about others. You care about the people who count on you, right?

Of course you do.

If you truly care about your colleagues - particularly your subordinates, you will maximize use of candor. It is your moral obligation to tell your colleagues the truth about their performance and how they can improve. 

I have written about the importance of candor previously - "How To Turbo-Charge Your Sales Coaching With Candor".  The best ideas are borrowed from past bosses and excellent books written by visionaries like Jack Welch. I read Welch's powerful book, Winning and it accelerated my thinking.

Recently my thought process about candor was profoundly-accelerated by Kim Scott. Her approach is one that anyone can immediately implement.

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Topics: Sales Culture

Is Your New Sales Wolf Destined To Leave You?

Posted by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

Dec 17, 2015 2:45:00 PM

Too much of a good thing may eventually work against you.

Think about the sales wolf who left you before you could clone them. You poured your heart into them. This sales wolf onboarded lightening fast. Then they wanted your job and unfortunately a promotion opportunity was not available.

You thought you had more time. Then a competitor snapped them up. 

The real reason why the sales wolf left your employment so quickly was likely predictable. In fact, you could have known this was coming before you even made the job offer.

In many cases, a sales wolf is destined to leave due to their motivators combination being almost too rich for the sales role. Their motivators combination is so strong that it is not likely that you can promote them quickly enough, pay them what they demand, and/or provide the challenges they expect.  

The very motivators that make a sales wolf highly-successful will often cause them to seek more challenging and rewarding opportunities elsewhere.  We refer to this as the "sales motivators dilemma".

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Topics: Sales Hiring

Do You Have Your Sales Team's Back?

Posted by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

Dec 9, 2015 12:00:00 PM

Dear CEO...

Sales management incompetence destroys your sales team's confidence in you.

And you must have their confidence.

Your reputation is directly reflected through the quality of sales management and sales talent under your watch.  

My daughter engages in the highly-competitive, athletic sport of cheerleading competition. If you have observed a cheerleading competition, you have likely seen the choreography and stunting on a competition floor. It is intense. A lot of preparation boiling down to a couple of minutes of intense choreographed stunts and teamwork.

What you may not realize is that a cheerleading competition actually begins with an important safety check prior to the the choreographed stunts. Points penalties due to safety infractions such as jewelry, hair, nails, and glitter can cost a team dearly.

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Topics: Sales Management

How To Implement A Moneyball Sales Hiring Program

Posted by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

Dec 2, 2015 1:00:00 PM

What will your legacy be?

Your proverbial "fork in the road" is immediately ahead.

Will your legacy be one of zealous guarding the status quo or one of a never-ending quest to build the best revenue-producing, highly-refined sales engine history has ever known? 

The easy way is rarely the best way.

Your legacy is completely in your hands.


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Topics: Sales Hiring

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