salesassessment .com whitepaper:Winning the War for Sales Talent 2 – how effective assessment drives talent retention strategy online sales talent assessment ... ire the right person h for the right role...
salesassessment .com Executive summary Effective talent assessment has long been the element missing from sales talent retention strategies. This key element enables organizations to formulate an effective talent retention strategy and transform from passive to Active Talent Retention. This mind–set helps drive retention strategies for key sales talent which start long before onboarding and even prior to the hiring process. Forward–looking talent assessment enables organizations The Sales Talent Assessment and associated analysis tools not only to select talent most suited to existing roles but provide the means to build and support a coherent sales to assess potential to grow along with the organization – talent retention strategy, which is forward–looking, agile and enabling employers to ‘hire for the future’. At the same time, highly responsive to changing market demands. Such a model employers benefit from a far wider pool from which to select continuously optimizes an organization’s talent–fit with the talent because they have the knowledge and understanding demands of the market and engages top talent in a shared to confidently hire candidates based on underlying role journey with the employing organization. competencies, irrespective of current role or market sector. Benchmarking talent against a ‘High–Performer’ profile for specific sales roles enables organizations to deploy talent where it will be most effective and provides a robust and objective route to off–loading under–performing talent. 2 | whitepaper: Winning the War for Sales Talent 2 – how effective assessment drives talent retention strategy
whitepaper: Winning the War for Sales Talent 2 – how effective assessment drives talent retention strategy online sales talent assessmentThe importance vital component has been missing. There has been no easy– yet–reliable way of simultaneously assessing an individual’sof retaining top talent suitability for a specific sales role – in comparison not just with the best available in an organization but matched against theNobody would deny the significance of retaining key talent profile of a truly global High–Performer – while also identifying– particularly in sales. Since the final decade of the previous their potential to develop and grow in step with their employer.century, commentators like McKinsey Co have stressed theimportance of rethinking the way organizations plan to attract,motivate, and retain employees. The seminal ‘War for Talent’1 How an effective talentand subsequent work has supported this approach yet foundemployers still largely unprepared for this challenge. management strategy drivesIn 2008 and some 15 years on from the original research, competitive advantagethe authors of another McKinsey report2 had this to say: An effective talent assessment tool – particularly in sales –‘Companies like to promote the idea that employees are their opens the door to developing a coherent and cohesive strategybiggest source of competitive advantage. Yet the astonishing for managing talent. But the right tool enables organizationsreality is that most of them are as unprepared for the challenge to go much further than that: it provides them with the meansof finding, motivating, and retaining capable workers as they to engage with their employees in Active Talent Retentionwere a decade ago.’ along the lines recommended in the The Talent Management Handbook4. In this classic work, the authors explored theIndeed, the importance of retaining top talent is more acute importance of systematically identifying, keeping, developingthan ever today. One issue is the sheer cost of turnover and and promoting an organization’s best people. They identifiedroutinely replacing lost talent; another is a severe shortage of three key steps to a human resources strategy that would drivethe right kind of talent making top people hard to replace; a an organization’s success in terms of its talent:third is the lost opportunity cost due to the disruption causedby talent turnover, particularly in sales; and a fourth is the • identify, select, and cultivate what they termedlikelihood of revenue following the sales talent, particularly at ‘Superkeepers’ – those employees an organization could notthe highest levels. Running through all this has been the issue afford to lose;of identifying exactly what top talent looks like, and where tofind it. • locate and develop highly qualified backups for key positions, which are critical to organizational continuity; andIn a January 2011 research brief3, Aberdeen Group’s JaysonSaba stressed the cost side of the equation, when discussing • allocate resources to employees based on actual and/orthe recruitment of six–figure earners. It found that employers potential contribution to organizational excellence.were especially keen to reduce employee turnover and improveretention at this level: one of the factors was that large In another key work, Good To Great: Why Some Companies Makeorganizations face estimated replacement costs of around 86% the Leap ... And Others Don’t5, author Jim Collins highlightedof annual salary at this senior level. With a typical 10% annual how having the right people in the right roles is what gives theturnover rate, this would cost an organization employing 50 most successful organizations their competitive edge.six–figure earners a hefty $500,000 each and every year.So what has gone wrong? In the sales environment, one3 | whitepaper: Winning the War for Sales Talent 2 – how effective assessment drives talent retention strategy
salesassessment .com He wrote: ‘We expected that good–to–great leaders would begin by setting a new vision and strategy. We found instead What good looks like that they first got the right people on the bus, the wrong The fundamental key to effective talent retention is the ability people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats – and to understand what good looks – which talent is suitable, then they figured out where to drive it. The old adage “people which needs to be redeployed, where you’re headed in terms are your most important asset“ turns out to be wrong. People of development, whether there’s room for growth, which talent are not your most important asset. The right people are.’ you want to retain, what will motivate an individual to perform and feel comfortable in a role – which is why an accurate and highly predictive assessment tool underpins the whole process. Talent is key to growth Such a tool needs to accurately assess an individual’s fit Recently, McKinsey’s Lowell Bryan and Claudia Joyce6 have with a specific role (not just a generalized sales role) and echoed this seemingly simple proposition, this time looking compare them with the best–in–class – what we term a global at the talent issue from the perspective of organizational High–Performer. It should look in detail at the underlying design. They concluded: ‘Your workforce is the key to growth competencies (behavioral, motivational, intellectual and skills– in the 21st century. By tapping into their underutilized based) that drive performance in any specific role. The tool talents, knowledge, and skills you can earn tens of thousands must accurately highlight any gaps that will limit performance of additional dollars per employee, and manage the while also assessing growth potential for the current and interdepartmental complexities and barriers that prevent real future roles. achievements and profits.’ And because such a tool works on the underlying competencies Using Collins’ analogy, how then is it possible to shape the that convey the ability to thrive in a particular role (rather organization for optimum current and future performance by than investigating past performance), this instantly opens getting: up the opportunity of hiring from a far wider talent pool than previously might have been available to an organization. • the right people on the bus; Equally, the tool itself also needs to be dynamic and responsive • the right people off the bus; and to changing market conditions, such that the employing organization can be confident that it is hiring, developing and • the right people in the right seats? retaining top talent in line with current and future market expectations. The key is effective talent management and, specifically, Active Talent Retention which drives the hiring, onboarding and development process. This approach builds and maintains an effective talent pipeline with a view to retaining the talent most suited to the organization today, while also future– proofing it for tomorrow. It is important to note also that Active Talent Retention is part of a dynamic system: once you have the right talent for current market conditions, the process doesn’t just stop; the market will continue to evolve and both organization and individual talent will need to keep pace. 4 | whitepaper: Winning the War for Sales Talent 2 – how effective assessment drives talent retention strategy
whitepaper: Winning the War for Sales Talent 2 – how effective assessment drives talent retention strategy online sales talent assessmentThe talent retention pipeline The onboarding processTalent retention at the higher echelons starts long before the Continued through the onboarding process, this Active Talent‘onboarding’ process when a new employee actually joins an Retention approach becomes ever more powerful. New hiresorganization: it begins with the search for the right candidate. who are well–supported by their employers almost inevitablyHowever, the key to attracting quality candidates is often an come up to speed faster and start making a contribution earlieremployer’s reputation in the talent marketplace. – a fundamental consideration for people in a sales role. This drives success which is an important motivational factor.For many companies – our clients included – effectiverecruitment at the top levels depends on reputation – A clear view of an individual’s motivators – these are nottheir ‘hiring brand’ is vital. Word of mouth and peer–group always money – enables the employing organization to tunerecommendation are key factors in a candidate’s decision performance and create a development environment bestwhether or not to join an employer. suited to the needs of both parties. As a result, the retention process becomes a dialogue between individual talent and the employer.The search and hiring process Appropriate ongoing assessment can provide organizations with a development needs analysis for every employee,The way that employers conduct the search and hiring process while offering the means to work in partnership with themis an important factor in retention: our clients tell us that using in creating a personal development plan. This forms the starta credible assessment tool as part of this process not only of a development journey that employee and employer willhelps them to determine whether or not the person concerned make together. From the employer’s perspective, this providesis right for the role under consideration; it brings the additional the opportunity to feed in its view of how a specific role willbenefit of underlining the professionalism of the employer develop and how that role will grow with the individual.to the candidate, and consequently, its attractiveness as anorganization to work for. In terms of effective retention, it is of paramount importance that the employer communicates the concept of this sharedWith its ability to assess potential as well as precise fit to journey right from the outset.a specific sales role, the right assessment tool enhancesthe hiring process by transforming it into a forward–lookingactivity, empowering organizations to ‘hire for the future’rather than just the current opportunity. The ability to assessan individual’s current competencies alongside future potentialis a very powerful combination. The right tool enables anemployer to assess key motivators within the individual, theirability to cope with change, and their capacity to evolve anddevelop with the business, even at this early juncture – suchthat the retention process has already begun.5 | whitepaper: Winning the War for Sales Talent 2 – how effective assessment drives talent retention strategy
salesassessment .com talent retention opportunities by ensuring that roles, talent, The development journey aspirations and competencies are well–matched. Uniquely, the Sales Talent Assessment tool not only measures Figure 1 indicates how organizations can assess an individual’s suitability for an existing role with considerable accuracy but role fit and skills when considering their suitability for a specific also predicts potential or ‘headroom’ for a candidate to grow role. The individuals who fall into the upper–right quadrant – into a new role (or, indeed, the need for them to be redeployed the ‘stars’ – are best suited to the role. At the same time, those into a more appropriate or less challenging role). This opens up in the bottom–left quadrant are least suited. the opportunity for creating a dynamic process whereby talent is developed for and deployed to suitable roles where they can This is an important consideration. Tolerating under– perform at their best and be most productive. At the same time, performers has long been a weakness in the corporate world. the roles themselves can continuously be aligned to the needs Unfortunately, it can have an overwhelmingly negative impact of the marketplace. on the very talent that an organization is seeking to retain – the High–Performers, according to McKinsey’s ‘War for Talent: This creates an immensely powerful opportunity to optimize part two’. ‘Companies that neglect these imperatives pay the talent for specific roles, to engage in succession–planning price. Tolerating underperformers – especially underperforming and to drive organization change, while also maximizing High Role Focus on development High–Performer Fit Uncomfortable – Under–performer wrong role High Low Skills Figure 1: suitability for a specific sales role – the importance of the correct role–fit. When hiring or positioning an individual for a specific sales role, high role–fit indicates potential for High Performance in the role. Subject to appropriate motivation, individuals with high role–fit/high skills are the High–Performers, while those with high role–fit/low skills can be developed to address skills gaps – both are potentially suitable for the role in question. However, our research shows that a significant number of people fall into the bottom two quadrants, and are poorly positioned for their current role. This is often the result of poor hiring practice or unsuitable promotion from a previous role in which they were performing well. This can lead to individuals becoming disillusioned with their new role and leaving, adversely affecting talent retention for both the current and previous roles. 6 | whitepaper: Winning the War for Sales Talent 2 – how effective assessment drives talent retention strategy
whitepaper: Winning the War for Sales Talent 2 – how effective assessment drives talent retention strategy online sales talent assessmentbosses – carries the highest price of all. Sub–par managers shape their own destiny but that of the organization itself: asdrive talent from companies and pre–empt positions that could they develop, the organization develops too. It has profoundhave been used as development opportunities. Last year, nearly consequences for the way organizations formulate their talent60 percent of the respondents strongly agreed that they retention strategies.would be delighted if their companies were quicker to dismissunderperformers or to move them into less critical roles.’ Enlightened organizations are using this concept to imbue a sense of responsibility in their key employees and to drive theirThose with high skills but poor role–fit may be more suited sales talent pipeline and retention strategies. A sense of sharedbehaviorally or intellectually for a different role, while investment helps foster engagement and ‘ownership’, whichpeople in the top–left quadrant could be moved towards in turn, helps drive retention – and this brings with it massivestar performance with suitable learning and development competitive advantage.intervention.This new understanding brings with it major benefits on thepart of the employer because assessment lights the way for Referencesorganizations to optimize development budgets by focusing 1 ‘The War for Talent’, by Elizabeth G Chambers, Mark Foulon,development where it will deliver most return: employers are Helen Handfield–Jones, Steven M Hankin and Edward Gable to focus development precisely when and where it is Michaels III, McKinsey Quarterly August 1998 and ‘War forneeded. Talent: part two’ by Elizabeth L Axelrod, Helen Handfield–As Pierre Gurdjian and Oliver Triebel pointed out in the Jones and Timothy A Welsh, McKinsey Quarterly May 2001.McKinsey Quarterly7, many training programs don’t yield the 2 ‘Making talent a strategic priority’ by Matt Guthridge,desired results. One reason is that they are usually launched Emily Lawson and Asmus Komm. McKinsey Quarterly,without sufficient knowledge of where the gaps in employee January 2008.skills exist. An effective assessment tool, along with a suitableanalysis dashboard that provides a detailed overview of skills 3 ‘Challenges in Sourcing Six–Figure Talent’, Aberdeen Group,gaps at individual and team level, fills this void. January 2011.In turn, such an approach brings further benefits to the The Talent Management Handbook: Creating Organizational 4 organization and to individuals, who understand that the Excellence By Identifying, Developing, and Promoting Yourorganization is not only making a substantial investment Best People, edited by Lance A. Berger Dorothy R berger,in them but is also aiming to avoid wasting their time with McGraw–Hill Professional, 2003.poorly conceived and repetitive development programs. Suchindividuals are more motivated and engaged. Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... And 5 Others Don’t by Jim Collins, October 2001.Conclusion Mobilizing Minds: creating wealth from talent in the 21st 6 century organization by Lowell L Bryan and Claudia I Joyce,The concept of a shared development journey – facilitated by McGraw Hill, 2007.an appropriate talent assessment tool – is very powerful, both 7 ‘Identifying Employee Skill Gaps’, by Pierre Gurdjianfor employee and employer. With motivation and engagement and Oliver Triebel, McKinsey Quarterly May 2009.comes a sense of empowerment that employees can not only7 | whitepaper: Winning the War for Sales Talent 2 – how effective assessment drives talent retention strategy
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