Sales talent: the final profit frontier – part 1

29th November 2016 |   Nick de Cent

Hiring, developing and retaining salespeople have been something of a dark art. It’s often expensive and inefficient, but new talent-management techniques are bringing us into the 21st century.

Skilled professionals have credibility with customers, and you can’t afford to compromise the credibility of your brand by sending second-best into the field
Dr Beth Rogers

In their 2015 Harvard Business Review article “The Best Ways to Hire Salespeople”, Harvard Business School’s Frank Cespedes and Daniel Weinfurter, who is an Adjunct Lecturer at The Kellogg School of Management, discussed the fact that, while many firms talk about talent management, few deal systematically with a basic issue: average annual turnover in sales is 25-30%. Not only is that expensive; it’s also inefficient – so surely there must be a better way.

Talking to the International Journal of Sales Transformation, Dr Cespedes is clear: “This means the equivalent of the entire sales force must be recruited, trained, and socialised in that company’s sales process every four years or so. A resource allocation of that magnitude also makes (or, should make) sales talent a C-level issue.”

Founder of the International Journal of Sales Transformation | + posts

Nick de Cent is the founder and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Sales Transformation. A business journalist for over 35 years, he has been covering sales since the mid-1980s and has been a strong advocate of enhancing its professional status. He has freelanced for the Financial Times and edited the Sales Performance supplement in The Times. He also writes and edits extensively on behalf of corporate clients, including a Big 3 management consultancy and a top four global executive search firm.