InSights - What you didn't know you didn't know

How a Talent Audit Can Determine Alignment and Development Needs

How a Talent Audit Can Determine Alignment and Development Needs

A Talent Audit provides access to employee skill comparisons and overall success potentials with a predictive accuracy similar to the way a DNA strand identifies genetic makeup of each individual.  Organizations are able to inventory a complete list of strengths and weaknesses for all key employees across every important position, with every team, or across the whole organization.  Whether you are transforming your sales or leadership team, involved in a merger or acquisition, or you are managing a new team, the Talent Audit can make your Alignment and Training decisions much more accurate.

Sales Leader Decision Making

  • Identify incumbent salespeople most adept at developing new business (“hunters”) versus those best suited to managing existing customer relationships (“farmers”) or handling Strategic Accounts, or developing into a sales subject matter expert or any the other key sales roles that World Class Sales Benchmarking Research has identified
  • Determine which salespeople have the predictive skill strengths required to succeed in a sales management role
  • Identify salesperson skill gaps that can be remedied with training, coaching, or other strategies
  • Discover which salespeople have the skills to transition to new roles (solutions sales versus transaction sales)
  • Identify where sales talent might most effectively be deployed to support key account goals
  • Determine which salespeople can play a new role to meet the demands of an evolving customer
  • Ascertain the most critical training and development needs by employee, team, and position

While the Talent Audit is frequently used in management development and succession planning, it is especially suited for sales organizations, because the ability to predict – and therefore apply and augment salesperson job performance is essential to improving sales force effectiveness. The underlying empirical database derives from Chally’s World Class Sales Excellence Research which includes best practices of the sales forces identified as being world class. The research is based on ratings from 70,000 customer interviews, rating 210,000 salespeople across 7,300 sales organizations.

Human Resource Decision Making

  • Access and evaluate all incumbents in any group, to understand what areas are most appropriate for training across the entire group or the entire organization
  • Create a corporate-wide profile of strengths and weaknesses to prioritize effective development initiatives, succession planning, and high potential identification

Executive Decision Making

  • Apply accurate, predictive, insights to the consideration of strategic initiatives that have top- and bottom-line impact, such as increasing market share, penetrating new markets, increasing productivity, launching new products, reorganizations, and mergers
  • Strategically align human capital strengths to achieve organizational needs and objectives
  • Increase the ability to make more objective decisions, with the confidence of knowing those decisions are based on predictive criteria

An Ongoing Decision-Making Tool

The Talent Audit assessment system and tools are most effective for strategic decision making when used on a continuing basis. Because data is predictive, its value for both employee development and career selection is unparalleled.

How to Recruit the Four Types of Salespeople

Understanding what salespeople want from a job is critical to successful  recruiting.  The three most important  attractions of a selling job and the  commitment to earn them are:

  • Independence requiring self-discipline
  • Opportunity requiring risk
  • Security requiring loyalty
  • However, the importance of these attractions is very  different with each of the four types of salespeople.

Recruiting Closing Salespeople

Closing salespeople are usually high energy, fast pacers, who leave a sales job only because incentives or commissions are capped, or because the company itself is in decline.

We suggest recruiting only experienced salespeople from companies (competitors or not) who pay most or all of their compensation on commission or bonus.  Good closers usually have to be found by personal contact.  Very few successful closing salespeople are looking for a job.  Risks don’t bother them if a great opportunity comes along.  In fact, security is almost irrelevant.  But some degree of independence is critical; they seldom work well as a part of a team.

Recruiting Consultative Salespeople

Consultative sellers also want opportunity and are willing to accept both “the risk of failure” and “the risk of rejection” in order to have a shot at that opportunity.  Often the most desired opportunity is advancement into management.  Security, however, is more important than independence; they’ll be both loyal and team players if it advances their career.

Consultative sales jobs can draw directly from school graduates if extensive classroom and on the job training and mentorships are provided.  Individuals with less than top grades are often the best candidates, since they studied “practically” (i.e., enough to reach a goal–graduation).  They spent a good deal of their time learning social skills (excellent for selling) at the expense of academic pursuits (not always so excellent for selling).  They are usually very image and prestige conscious (though often reticent to admit it) and seek an employer that has a prestigious professional image, like the IBM look.

Recruiting Relationship Salespeople

Relationship sellers want independence–the freedom to be their own boss.  They will exercise discipline and take responsibility for themselves.  They become resistant if management gets too much in their way, or if management tries to change the rules and control their selling environment too much.  They’ll be loyal if not manipulated unfairly, but will be team players only in verbal confirmation (after which they’ll do it their own way, anyway).

Relationship salespeople are basically small entrepreneurs.  Most of them get into sales accidentally.  They could just as easily have started in some other business.  A key is locating people who started, or tried to start, their own business, or who worked in situations where there was relative autonomy.  They typically can be found with competitors, distributors, and working for customers.  They are usually politically “right” or conservative in orientation and participate in or are interested in sports because these are competitive activities.

Recruiting Display Salespeople

Display salespeople and order takers want security and routine and are willing to give loyalty in return.  Many retail salespeople are used as clerks, not offered security, and thus aren’t very loyal.  Hobbyists, however, who become retail specialists in their hobby area typically develop a high degree of loyalty to both their sales area and products, as well as to their customers (e.g., fashion buffs who sell clothes or electronic enthusiasts who work in electronics outlets).

To understand effective display salespeople better, we need to recognize the combination of “some” ambition to keep busy and be involved with the work ethic, along with a stronger interest in non-work activity, such as maintaining home obligations or other non-career-related aspects of life.  These people can have an interest in success, but they don’t want to narrowly direct their attention toward  a career.

Security-oriented people usually select jobs that require little decision making, are convenient to home, and are well structured.  They often have strong commitments to hobbies and moderate to high community interests.  Recruiters can find them in non-sales jobs like clerical and office work, paraprofessional health service jobs, and low-skill service jobs.  They can be reached by ads in the home section of the newspaper, through community affairs contacts, etc.

The Tough Recruiting Questions: How Much to Spend? How Much Experience? When to Recruit From Competitors?

Spend as much as you would expect it would cost to cover the actual replacement cost of a top salesperson leaving.  That figure includes the cost of lost sales, start-up time, etc.

If you have the time to develop a good recruiting program, you will be able to focus in and increase your recruits’ average level of performance dramatically.  If you don’t have the time, consider using good recruiters and give them a clear picture of the kind of salesperson you need.

Experience is critical in relationship and consultative sales.  It usually takes at least three years for a motivated recruit to become the best.  If you can afford that development time, you may be able to pick candidates fresh out of school.  If you can’t, choose experienced people.

Consultative selling is both the hardest and easiest to do.  It is difficult because it depends upon a technical base which comes naturally only to academic people, and easy because it relies on a well-developed selling system (advertising support material, etc.) that has been carefully planned and implemented.  In general, you will find it easier to train the technical skills than to train the selling skills, but the difference is slight.  If you don’t have extensive classroom and on-the-job sales mentor training programs available, pick an experienced pro.

Recruiting from competitors offers a two-edged sword.  On the one hand, such candidates may already have many of the necessary skills.  On the other hand, if salespeople will leave a competitor, they may well leave you also.  The key issue is whose fault was the transition.  Strong “superstars” who left a company because their careers or commissions were capped are a good source.  Otherwise, be wary of competitors whose poor-to-average salespeople may simply be looking for an opportunity that is going to be easier for them, rather than an opportunity that is going to have greater potential.

Also, be aware that many competitors’ jobs vary just enough from your own that negative transfer of skills becomes a problem (e.g., people who had their leads generated for them now have difficulty generating leads of their own).

Successful Recruiting: Three Steps

Good recruiting isn’t a matter of chance in the long run.

By carefully

  1. analyzing what you need,
  2. identifying who likes to do that well, and
  3.  offering them the “reward” they really want, you’ll set a company “image” that will recruit for you!  Now you can pick from some of the best recruits available … and they contact you!


Kryptonite & Criteria


The Fallacy of Setting Unrealistic Productivity Improvement Expectations

Kryptonite is a term often used synonymously with the Achilles’ heel, referring to the one weakness of an otherwise invulnerable hero or heroine – in its original case, this was Superman. Superman flourishes and displays superhuman strength and ability in the absence of Kryptonite. However, in its presence, Superman’s otherwise powerful self is reduced to a mere mortal. In similar vein, mediocre data that are used in an applied research project like a criterion validation study means death to an otherwise strong process.

Want to Grow Your Leadership Pipeline? Listen to What Millennials are Saying about Global Leadership!

pipelineBy: Tracey Wik

The man (Jack Weinberg) who coined the phrase “Don’t trust anyone over 30” is now 73. This may shock some of you who listened to Jack give his speech, or quoted yourself early on in your career. While those born at the end of the generation are teenagers, early Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are now part of that group. Does this mean we don’t trust what they have to say because they are now part of the establishment?

The sentiment of that statement dates back to an earlier time, but given the business press is filled with stories about the need for global leaders, we must find new ways to develop people sooner. By all accounts, leadership development is more art than science. A Millennial’s point-of-view on collaboration and organization offers practical ways to build our leadership pipeline.

First of all, it is time to examine our thinking on mobility. In the past, mobility was a key variable to leadership development and succession planning as it was seen as a pathway for acquiring the requisite skills to lead bigger and broader teams. Mobility is still important, but mostly for senior leadership. Today mobility is more often seen by organizations as too time consuming and expensive for its return. With flatter, more matrixed organizations, employees are collaborating with colleagues across time zones in different business units from day one of employment. Their roles demand they collaborate with peers on projects without having the formal influence to direct and control the outcomes. Add to the flow of work the endless productivity improvement made available by technology. Quite simply, one doesn’t need to leave his or her desk to learn the skills of global leadership.

Millennials did grow up in prosperous times with many options available, but they are no longer new to the workplace. The early Millennials are well established in their careers being over 30. This means they have been working for close to a decade; consider the preferences of this demographic group as being inclusive and public merits consideration in your leadership development strategy.

Given the flat inclusive demands of today’s marketplace, designing leadership development with self-selection criteria rather than manager nomination criteria allows more people to opt in earlier, giving you bigger pools of talent to develop. To break-out of command and control thinking, and  structure leadership development as the development of skills needed by anyone, a portfolio of skills is needed regardless of title, rank, or geography. The criteria for selection into leadership roles can be the same, but structuring the roles to allow for an employee’s self-selection gives the responsibility for success to the employee. It is no longer granted by title, but by merit.

This degree of agency over one’s career is something Millennials, in particular, appreciate having. In fact, why not make the success criteria a public conversation managed amongst the pool competing? The notion that Millennials want a trophy for showing up is not only insulting, it is not accurate. They want to compete on merit for things that matter to them. Being part of a select leadership cadre is a game worth playing.

How to Specialize Your Sales Force to Meet Company Objectives

how-staffing-agencies-recruit-for-sales-positionsCompanies emphasizing growth and specific business initiatives often find it appropriate to segment sales activities beyond recognizing the four broad segments of customers. Extensive Chally research of more specialized sales forces has identified 14 specific sets of sales and service skills that are required to succeed in specialized sales roles. The sales specialist “map” below demonstrates a decision tree that allows a sales executive to identify the one unique profile best suited to accomplish a specialized sales initiative.

A series of no more than five questions will lead to the best match

  • Is this position field (outside) sales or inside (tele) sales?
  • Is the position proactive (outbound tele or direct sales contact) or reactive (inbound tele or indirect field sales through a distributor) or primarily customer service?
  • Is the position primarily responsible for a full line or a specialized product or service?
  • Is the sales effort account based (strategic or major accounts) or geographically based (territory sales)?
  • Is the salesperson’s responsibility primarily to acquire new accounts (hunter) or maintain and grow existing accounts (farmer)?

Sales Specialty Map


Roles and Requirements of Specialized Sales Positions

Indirect Sales (via distributors or resellers) Acquires skills at training cus­tomers (on sales and programs), making joint sales calls, sales motivational and presenta­tion techniques, product knowledge, and the ability to maintain repeat sales

Strategic Account Manager Strategic relationships are built with major customers through initiative, a willingness to work long hours, proactive assistance and support, a willingness to further develop technical competence, and an emphasis on sharing information that is pertinent and will have lasting educational impact

New Business Development (Hunter) Demands individuals who can develop leads, find opportunities, pene­trate prospects and customers, and be willing to put in long hours as well as problem solve and close

Account Management (Farmer) Requires excellent customer rela­tions skills focused on working internal systems on the customer’s behalf, and effec­tiveness at explaining and clarifying issues to the customer; this is driven by the desire to increase business and the ability to work long hours when necessary to accomplish that

Territory Consultative Product Sales Focuses on establishing a credible image, developing new business through effective qualifying and presentation skills driven by the motivation to be an effective consultant

Territory Relationship Product Sales Calls for a disciplined and systematic approach to goal achievement and a focused response to customer needs in a service capacity, as well as effective communication skills and the ability to work a sales plan in account penetration; removes objections and gives permission to buy

Territory Consultative System Sales Demands the skill to develop business through effective lead generation, qualification of profitable prospects, and tailored presentations; willing to work long hours to meet objectives, sets ambitious goals and achieves them through effective selling, and understands sales strategies and tactics

Territory Relationship System Sales Adapts image to accommodate customers, gives personal attention, and takes hands-on responsibility for assuring continued customer satisfaction; knowledgeable of sales strategies and pushes to set personal records in sales; comfortable with the recognition of a high-profile role

System Specialist Focuses on assum­ing the leadership to learn customer needs and goals, stays continuously aware of the market and spends the long hours it takes to influence and train others

Product / Service Specialist Customers look for individuals who provide reliable information, learn their business, know the market, and communicate effec­tively while remaining dedicated to their own sales results
Product / Transactional Specialist Demands initiative and perseverance to develop leads, qualify, and close on an ongo­ing basis
Outbound Telesales Takes the initiative to present benefits and answer objections in order to grow the business; willing to learn the products and services; can persevere for as long as necessary to succeed

Inbound Telesales Requires an image conscious vocal demeanor in a service oriented individual who is interested in learn­ing the customer’s needs, solving problems, and making the appropriate (and profitable) recom­mendations

Customer Service Representative Calls for a focused commitment to take personal responsibility for satisfying all customers, regardless of their attitude or style; solutions must be intelligently thought out, often quickly, and presented with a positive attitude




How To Understand The Four Types Of Salespeople


Every pro baseball player must throw, catch, and hit. Yet, what it takes to be a great hitter or a 20-game-winning pitcher is dramatically different. So, too, in sales … all salespeople must talk to customers and take orders. However, Chally has established four different sales roles and “superstar” skills which are distinctly different and measurable.

The types are: The “super” Closer, the “IBM’er” Consultative, the “good ol’ boy” Relationship, and the “friendly order-taker” Display.

1. Closing

All salespeople must use closing skills at some point during the sales process. Here, we are talking about a personality type. This type starts with nothing and, therefore, must aggressively initiate customer contact. In most cases, one or two contacts are made with the prospect. The risk of failure is high because there is little time to interact with the customer. Therefore, this type must not have a high fear of personal rejection. This sales environment requires that salespeople quickly establish a prospect’s emotional desire and need for their product. Demonstration sales, new high-tech equipment, trade show promotions, pyramid sales and high-ticket executive vanity items (like corporate jets) are examples.

2. Consultative

Consultative sales situations usually are reserved for bigger ticket items, high technology items, or intangible “intelligent” services; for example, telephone systems, computer systems, consulting services, law services, etc. Here, both patient, interpersonal contact and aggressiveness are needed. Forget the personal touch of the relationship or fail to persist for a close, and the sale is lost. These sellers perform extremely well with prestige-image products/services.

This type of sales environment requires consultation with customers to meet their specific needs. Consultative salespeople are usually career oriented. Also, they are much more academically inclined than the other sales types. Consultative sales professionals are not daring risk-takers. The best ones do take risks, but only after careful thought and calculation. They pay a high level of attention to detail and have an above-average level of aggressiveness. The super sellers in this sales environment are able to handle personal rejection and the fear of failure extremely well. They exhibit self-confidence, patience, and the ability to quickly develop interpersonal relationships with all business prospects.

3. Relationship

Relationship salespeople like independence. They like the freedom of sales, the feeling that they are their own boss. They exercise discipline and take responsibility for their actions. Relationship salespeople become resistant if management tries to control their actions too much, or if management tries to change the rules.

Relationship sales requires great patience over a long period to finally cement a customer. This practically eliminates one’s concern with failure on a day-to-day basis because the sale is heavily dependent on the relationship between the salesperson and customer. A “good” relationship will generate at least some business eventually. Many industrial selling situations and both territory and route sales typify relationship sales. Relationship selling is characterized by the ability of salespeople who move to a competitor to take business with them. Local stock brokers, industrial suppliers, distributors, etc., typify Relationship sellers.

4. Display

Display sales requires little personal involvement, relatively little risk of personal rejection, and a compensation or reward system that does not depend on actually completing the sale. Display salespeople (retail clerks, for example) get paid even if the customer fails to buy. Many retail salespeople fit this category, as do bank tellers and other salespeople who are on total salary and receive little or no commission. Some telemarketing “order takers” (not the boiler room or high-pressure telephone sales) also sell from a “catalog” and fall into the Display sales category.



Don’t Be Smart About Your Career

by Tracey Wik

Conventional HR wisdom asserts that in order to get ahead, you should create Specific Measurable Results—the more specific the better. I assert this could be the worst career advice, and following this flawed conventional wisdom could cost you more than you gain.

Most everyone working today understands the moniker S.M.A.R.T—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound. S.M.A.R.T goals are the scorecard by which most organizations determine who gets what–the win/loss ratio of perks, promotions and compensation.

For those of you who make your living managing performance for your organizations, I hope you have not spontaneously combusted at your desk, not yet anyway. My reasoning for this is not to instill magical thinking in the workplace. Quite the opposite. I invite employees to take a new level of responsibility for advocating on behalf of their own careers, and in order to do that effectively, employees need objective, often third party data. It is the responsibility of the employee, not the manager, to tell the performance story. It is not enough to rely on the processes inherited from corporate S.M.A.R.T or otherwise.

In a former role, my team was responsible for the Performance Management cycle. Twice a year there was flurry of activities; setting objectives and then reviewing performance against the objectives. Each year, we would debate the carrot or stick approach to getting managers to complete the reviews. Each year, we struggled with the quality of what was submitted as “data.”

Each approach – honey or vinegar – had its merit. However, far too often, employees give their power away to their managers by not advocating on their own behalf. Sure, often managers are not having the courageous conversations with their employees about what was working or not working in regards to their performance. It is also as frequent that employees sit back and wait to be recognized for their potential rather than acting as if they are the CEO of their career.

Whether you meet your goals or not, don’t wait to be recognized for other opportunities. In today’s workplace, attainment of goals specific or otherwise is usually the floor not the ceiling. Knowing what other talent you have which can be actualized for the right opportunity is essential. Chances are, your company has access to tools that can help you discover what skills you have now, and what skills you need to develop for the future. Getting specific about your accomplishments is the beginning of the career development discussion, but knowing objectively what your potential is gives you access to what it will take to get there.

Chally can help you understand your potential. Go to for more information.