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Book Review - The Perfect Salesforce

The Perfect Salesforce by Derek Gatehouse

The author interviewed some 2,000 executives with the intent of determining a formula for building the perfect sales team ... he concluded that there are 6 best practices to master.

1. Understand how the 10 "selling talents" apply to your world.
2. Aligning the particular talents of your team with the various stages of the sales cycle.
3. Hiring the right skills.
4. Developing the right compensation model.
5. Conduct regular sales "behaviour" training.
6. Manage the team using results.

A large part of the "secret sauce" for this approach is in understanding the 10 selling talents and how they apply in your world. According to the author there are 6 "deal breaker" talents and 4 "desirable" assets.

The "Deal Breaker" Talents ...

1. Work ethic. The 2 different types described are quality focused and quantity focused. A salesperson with a total focus on quality will have trouble in an environment that demands high volumes ... and vice-versa.
2. Tolerance. The ability to battle through tough tasks and rejection.
3. Persuasion. Is the person a closer ... or an "order taker"?
4. Executive rapport. if you are selling to the "C" suite then the salesperson needs to be able to communicate effectively at that level ... conversely if you are selling at the blue collar level the right rapport is equally important.
5. Need. the ability to create need versus respond to an existing need.
6. Explanation. the ability to sell a complex solution may be beyond some salespeople.

The "Preferences" or "nice to haves" ...

7. Sales Cycle. A long sales cycle is a killer for some salespeople and the short cycle can be boring to others.
8. The Solution. The ability to sell in a commodity environment or the ability to sell a unique solution ... two different skills.
9. Products. The ability to sell multiple products ... or not.
10. Decision makers. The ability to orchestrate a complex sales with multiple buyers ... or a preference for the simple sale.

In a nutshell the trick is to decide which of the above skills are needed in your environment, hire the right people, compensate them in a way that creates the right behaviours and manage them so that they know and understand what is required of them.

Obviously a little more to it than that ... but you will need to read the book for more detail ... or visit Executive Summaries and buy the 8-page version!

A lot of what the author says makes sense based upon my experiences ... the implementation of a structure to support this approach, together with the ability to hire exactly the right people, might prove to a little tougher than the theory. Having said that, and recognizing we live in a world where the 80/20 rule is king, there is a lots of good stuff in here and the book is worth a read.