The 3 Reasons Why Your Sales Team Isn’t Full of “A” Players

If most solar and storage companies know that the difference between a mediocre salesperson and a top performer is like night and day, then why don’t more organizations have sales teams that are packed with “A” Players?

Benefits of a high-performance sales team include…

  • Higher quality customers
  • Significantly increased revenue
  • A big boost to team morale
  • Raising the standard for the organization going forward
  • Lower Blood Pressure

That last one is particularly important for you as the person responsible for making sure your team hits their numbers.

Everyone wants a team that is stacked with “A” Players, but few actually do. Here are the three primary things that keep many companies, both in and out of our industry, from having the strongest sales team possible for them.

#1) You Are a “B” Company & Don’t Realize it

The very definition of being an “A” (one of the roughly top 10% of companies in a market) means that you are very likely not an “A” company. There is nothing wrong with being a “B” company, but it is crucial that you understand where you’re coming from and what you have to offer and retain an “A” Player. If your salary and comp packages are below market, your benefits are sub-par, you offer no equity, 401K, or long term incentive plan; or if you are in a less than ideal location and require that everyone be in the office five days a week, then you are probably a “B” company, or at the very least you have some strong “B” company traits.

That being said, “B” companies can and should aim to hire and retain “A” Players whenever possible. Some companies go about that by hiring someone who is, or was, an “A” Player in a smaller/different role and help them grow into a new role. Other companies will stretch their comp plan and make special accommodations to hire strong talent, as they should. Another approach is to take a chance on a “B” Player from a different organization who is underperforming because the management or corporate culture where they are at is weighing them down, but who could be an “A” Player with the right company.

Often times though, we talk with “B” or “C” companies that expect and will only consider “A” talent that have solid experience as an “A” Player in an identical role. That equation doesn’t usually work, let alone make sense. Unless they are going to dramatically overpay for a stud candidate coming from a competitor (which may or may not be a good idea), a “B” company has to have a lot of luck on their side to poach an “A” salesperson away from a great job with a good company. What usually happens instead is that the company hires one of the “B” or “C” Players from their competitor, and that person ends up being a “B” or “C” Player at their company as well.

Everyone wants to punch above their weight class, and while some companies do get lucky from time to time, it makes more sense to rely less on luck and more on a well-designed strategy for how one’s “B” company can actually attract “A” talent.

The process begins by asking, “what do we have to offer, and will that be attractive to the people we want? If not, how can we adjust our approach to increase our odds of onboarding “A” Players?”

#2) You Have Unrealistic Expectations

Don’t Let Perfect be the Enemy of Good

A surprising number of companies expect new sales hires to already have relationships with every potential customer before coming on board, not recognizing that in the weeks and months spent trying to find that perfect person they could have hired a top performing salesperson with transferable skills from another segment and gotten them up to speed and producting! Yes, you want to hire someone who can start generating revenue quickly, but how quick is it really if it takes 5+ months to find and on-board that individual?

You Have Champagne Tastes and a Beer Budget

Many companies say they want “A” talent, but have “B” or “C” comp plans. If I had a dollar for every time a hiring manager tried to sell me on why they should be able to recruit the best people with their “great” low salary, big upside comp plan, I could retire right now. No top performing salesperson is leaving a job where they are killing it and are generally satisfied, to do the same job for you with a lower salary (higher risk) and a potentially bigger upside. They don’t know you and don’t really believe your company can deliver as well as you think you can. They know there is a ramp up time to get up to speed and fill a pipeline. You need to compensate them for leaving and bringing their talent to your team, not expect them to lose money while coming over.

ABC Corp. wants to hire an experienced business developer, but they are paying a base salary of $70,000, which is well below the market value of $100-$120,000. In lieu of a competitive base salary, ABC Corp.’s commission plan is fairly aggressive and uncapped.

ABC Corp. argues that, “if they are as good as they claim to be, they will make more money on my team than they are now!” But if this sales person is any good, they likely have closed deals that they are owed commissions on, have built a pipeline that they’d be walking away from, they’d be putting their own financial well-being at risk with this move, and they wouldn’t have much reason to trust ABC Corp.’s highly leveraged compensation plan.

Now, THAT is not a pretty picture.

Almost every salesperson worth their salt would turn that deal down, and in this example ABC Corp. would likely have to do what we’ve seen many companies do: fall back into the trap of hiring “B” and “C” Players and playing the high turnover game, all because they have set up a comp plan that will not allow them to ever hire a top person from one of their competitors.

#3) You Don’t Understand the Opportunity Cost of Not Firing

One of your sales people is underperforming in their territory, but you believe that having a weak performer in that spot is better than having no one at all. You don’t have the time or bandwidth to go through the whole hiring process to replace this underperformer, so you just deal with having a consistently underperforming salesperson in that area.

Meanwhile, your underperformer isn’t doing you any favors. They are making commitments to customers you can’t keep, resulting in damaged relationships and incorrect orders that ultimately cost the company more time, energy, money, and gives you an even bigger headache. This is the classic case of a company not understanding the true cost of a mis-hire.

Such decisions do a major disservice to a company’s customers AND the company!

These particular issues barely even scratch the surface of how to build a candidate-centric interview process, or how to actually identify and recruit these top performers, understanding The 3 Reasons Why Your Sales Team Isn’t Full of “A” Players is an important first step.

As the unemployment numbers continue to drop, finding and onboarding great sales professionals will only become more and more difficult. If you would like to discuss how Peak Demand, the leading solar and energy storage recruiters in the industry, can help you avoid these costly mistakes and build a hiring process designed to attract the best possible talent, click here to access my calendar and schedule a quick 15-minute conversation.