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Does your Organization Need a Sales Transformation?

assessing talent for inside sales


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The goal of Sales Talent Management for any organization is to identify the right talent early, screen out the mismatches before they are hired, retain the high potential talent you want to keep and identify and develop talent for future opportunities within the organization.

Today's blog is written by Howard Stevens and appears courtesy of our partner the Chally Group Worldwide 

An audit of a sales talent pool provides organizations with easily accessible decision-making tools that enable them to select, align, engage, develop and retain the sales talent necessary to drive strategic objectives.


  • 65% of salespeople who fail could be successful in other roles in the organization
  • Fewer than 15% of “Superstar” salespeople succeed in management
  • 70% of strong inside salespeople are good at maintaining client relationships, yet fail when asked to drive new business development with outside accounts

What Makes a Great Sales Force?

Chally Group Worldwide routinely presents the World Class Sales Benchmarking study. This study consists of businesses across a broad industry spectrum to identify the critical sales practices of exceptional sales forces as measured by the customers they serve. For the most current benchmarking research, each salesperson was rated on 15 critical evaluation points. In addition, three consecutive years of purchase volume for each rated salesperson was statistically correlated to identify the factors that drive buying decisions.  The following are key findings of the World Class Sales studies.

What Customers Want from Sellers

Initial interviews with over 1,000 corporate customers established three major needs customers expected vendors and sellers to address, even though customers were not confident they could get them.

  1. Customers want to narrow their own focus to the few things they do best and outsource the rest without the added overhead costs of supervising their suppliers;
  2. Customers want sellers to know their business well enough to create products and services they wouldn’t have been able to design or create themselves;
  3. Customers want proof that their suppliers have added value in excess of price.

Critical Salesperson Skills

Having conducted extensive research into customer purchasing behavior, we are able to enumerate these buying needs. This list of expectations essentially defines the role of the NEW sales professional. In the customers’ own words:

  • Be personally accountable for our desired results
  • Understand our business
  • Be on our side
  • Design the right applications
  • Be easily accessible
  • Solve our problems
  • Be creative in responding to our needs
Customers believe sales forces that excel at these seven factors will best fill their three basic business needs. By benchmarking the top 10 of these sales forces, we identified the critical success factors for “World Class” sales, and the standards of sales excellence. Benchmarking pinpoints how world class sales forces manage customer satisfaction, understand their customers’ businesses and deliver the other benefits their customers want.

How to Match the Right Type of Salesperson to Your Customers

The most successful sales managers recognize that all good salespeople must have certain vital skills and motivations. The best strategy is achieved by matching salesperson skills, focus, and motivation to best serve these needs. Market and customer analysis by Chally has identified four distinctly different types of customers. They, in turn, respond most positively to four different types of salespeople.

Truly new products are typically purchased either by technical experts (who must buy new technology to remain expert) or more frequently, by visionary “gateswingers” who have never used that product.

The new system buyer is an inexperienced but real user.  Commodities buyers have become so totally experienced with a products or service that the purchase and usage are completely standardized and often delegated as a routine function.

Understanding the Basics of Customer Needs

Chally’s research has found that intuitive gateswingers need an emotional appeal stimulated by “closing” salespeople in order to buy.  Inexperienced but real users have both substantial technical and application support needs and purchase and delivery needs that must be met by aconsultative” sales approach in order to use their system.  Experienced and demanding users no longer have high technical and application support needs.  However, they continue to have pressing purchase and delivery needs that include a major personal component with a “relationship” salesperson to help in the ordering process. Typically, only two needs predict commodity buying behavior from “display” salespeople: price and convenience.

A Strategic Method for More Accurate Sales Transformation Decisions

While the competency assessments and talent auditing are frequently used in management development and succession planning, they are especially suited for transforming sales organizations, because the ability to predict - and therefore apply and augment salesperson job performance is essential to improving sales force effectiveness.  Chally’s underlying empirical database derives from our 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.

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