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Workforce Transformation: Using Talent Analytics for Sales Optimization

I am a big believer and “all in” when it comes to the promise of analytics. At InterplayDNA we are focused on providing cutting edge analytics insights and solutions around HR and Talent to Fortune 500, Fortune 1000, and start-ups.

One of our clients, a well known Fortune 1000 CPG company, asked us to help them figure out how to define their best salespeople and then to put in place a system that would allow them to replicate these star performers across their organization.

Most companies who provide analytics insights for sales talent start a program like this by trying to figure out the profile of the best sales person. In other words, are they extroverts or introverts, talkers or listeners, people oriented or data oriented, etc.?

The problem with this approach is that if you have ever run a sales organization you intuitively know that great sales people come in all shapes and sizes. The “myth” is that in sales there is one size that fits all.

We took a different approach. We started by building a profile of the customer. We did this by interviewing a significant number of salespeople in the organization and asking them questions about their customers – backgrounds, titles, approaches to decision making, etc. We then went into our database and analyzed profiles of those who had taken our tests who held similar roles in similar companies as our clients customers.

What we found is that the “buyer” actually tended to fit more squarely into well defined and replicable buckets. And this makes sense if you think about it. For example, people who gravitate towards, for instance, roles in corporate finance tend to exhibit many of the same traits.

We then went back into our client and analyzed their best sales people and found that they generally exhibited traits that were complimentary, and/or similar, to their clients. This was a breakthrough because what it meant was that there was indeed a specific sales “type” that would be successful, but it was not based on general sales qualities, but rather, on qualities and traits that were specific to that companies (in this case our clients) target customer. To take this further, what it means is that the type of people you should hire to sell to doctors will probably be different then the types of salespeople you should hire to sell to buyers at big box stores.

And with this data in hand the company can aslo train all of their sales talent based on the customer insights, and decision making traits, that they exhibit.

This is why analytics is so disruptive, it holds the promise for organizations to optimize their talent in a way that will drive more sales, increase customer satisfaction, spur innovation, and more.

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