The traditional practice for Sales Leaders looking to improve their sales team’s overall performance has been to upgrade the team itself.  Let’s respectively call this the Jack Welch model.  It says you stack rank your team, A’s being your top performers and D’s representing your worst, then replace your bottom 10% every year.

The goal of course is that your “new hires” become an A or B player and therefore improve your sales team’s overall attainment.   It works in theory.  The real sales world imposes three challenges to this practice.

High Failure Rate of Sales ‘New-Hires’

Studies continue to show that between one-third and one-half of B2B sales new-hires fail and are replaced again (or quit).  That’s an expensive cycle considering the hard costs that go into recruiting, on-boarding, salary, draws, benefits, training, etc.  It’s even more expensive when the opportunity cost of that failed new hire is calculated; meaning, the lost value of new business that failed hire DID NOT produce.

Long Ramp Up Cycles for New Sales Hires

Ramp up time for reps selling a complex B2B service or product can be 12 to 24 months.  This is the time it takes them to learn their new company’s product and selling process, build a pipeline and move their opportunities to closing stage.   This often means waiting two years or more to learn if your new hire becomes that A or B rep you hoped for, instead of the D rep you fired.

The Short Tenure of Chief Sales Officers

Throw on top of the two preceding factors that the average tenure for Chief Sales Officers is as low as 18 months in some studies.  What this means for most companies is an almost constant rotation of sales leadership and sales reps as they apply the tried and true Jack Welch model to their sales organization.  Team attainment rarely improves by any measurable amount and the cycle of churn continues on.  The only ones making their team quota are the sales recruiters and headhunters.

As weak as this model has been, it was the only way for companies to improve sales results – until fairly recently.   Over the last few years a much more technical and process-based B2B sales model has emerged.   Research from experts such as Aberdeen Group, Forrester, CSO Insights, Marketing Sherpaand others have provided a new template for improving sales team results.    This new model doesn’t mean hanging on to D reps, but it provides an approach that can consistently improve overall team results and therefore create fewer, but stronger D’s and even better results from top performers.

If you are a CEO or Chief Sales Officer ready to break the ‘sales team churn’ cycle in favor of a better, more predictable sales model where do you start?  What does this new model look like and how do you transition to it?   Most simply put, you have two options: build it or buy it.

How To Transition to a Best Practices Based B2B Sales Model

Building Your New Sales Model

Fortunately, there is no shortage of studies, process documents, tools, templates and recommendations for those company leaders wishing to transform their sales model on their own.  For example, in the last twelve months alone 3FORWARD has downloaded/purchased nearly 200 unique sales white papers, research reports and studies for our own use.  Each of them filled with process recommendations and detailing the best practices of leading B2B sales teams.

Buying a Best Practices Sales Model

If your goal is to structurally and fundamentally improve your sales team’s results – not become an expert in researching sales models – then hire a sales consulting company to help you get there.  Our recommendation to CEOs and Sales Leaders is always to start with strategy, then design the process and lastly implement the tactical elements to achieve sustained improvements.   There a lot of excellent sales consulting companies out there (we think we’re pretty good at it too) so finding one that meets your needs shouldn’t be that difficult.