Sales Management: Why Process Trumps Talent

About Flavil Hampsten

SVP, Ticket Sales & Partnership Marketing, Charlotte Hornets Sports and Entertainment

Which matters more: Process or Talent? That’s an easy one.  Process always trumps talent.

Before you get upset and start defending how talented your staff is and that you couldn’t generate the numbers that you do without them, imagine how much more productive they would be if you gave them leads that close at four times the normal rate?  Or if you have sales events for them that routinely lead to $100,000 days?

I’m not going to completely define what process should be in place, but I will say that as a sales manager, process always trumps talent. Here is why.

#1 Talented Individuals Are Simply Not Enough

Sales managers need to hit a departmental goal.  There needs to be method to maximize revenue from each individual on the team.  Therefore, a process should be devised to assist everyone in order for the department to achieve goal.

I’ve never spoken to a sales manager who claims to have all A+ sales talent on staff.  Most have a mix of A+, A, B, and C sellers.  However, most have an A+ revenue budget to achieve.  Having a great process can bump the level of each seller and give the department a better chance to achieve goal.

#2 Talent Comes and Goes, Process Stays Forever

Brent StehlikHaving the right process in place has been an important element to the success of the teams I have managed throughout my career. The hiring process, sales process, lead-gen process….even convincing sales people to fall in love with the process of becoming great. They might not believe it right now, and I don’t think I did when I started my first job in sports, but process and persistence almost always trumps talent. ~Brent Stehlik, EVP/CRO Cleveland Browns
With the ambitious nature of today’s sales executives, the average life of a sales executive is approximately two years.  With no guarantee to keep top talent, the only method to ensure that you keep results is to have a process that maximizes each opportunity, regardless of which salesperson in assigned to it.

Why only two years? Generally speaking, the A+ sellers are the ones who can leave first, simply because other teams recruit them away with money and titles.  Most times, sales managers hands are bound with budgets and departmental structure making it difficult to match the offer and the salesperson leaves.  However, the departmental goal does not change.  If a superior process is in place, the current salespeople will continue to deliver at a high rate, a new top salesperson will emerge, and the new salesperson will generate top numbers quicker.

#3 Talent Pool is More Like a Talent Puddle

Hard fact, but with the amount of positions to fill, the low pay, and extremely long hours in sports, it’s nearly impossible to hire all A+ sales talent.  Therefore, by default, to keep your positions full you must hire a mix of talent levels in order to achieve sales results.  A process is the only way to make this happen.

Even if you have one of the best recruiting and inside sales programs in sports there will be times where positions are empty or when talent is lagging.  As a sales manager, you owe it to your company and your career to protect yourself from these times.  The most foolproof way to do this is to engineer and implement a superior process that maximizes revenue regardless.

With work and deliberate practice talent can be created.  However, superior talent cannot be created without hard work and deliberate practice while in a superior process.  More importantly to a sales manager, you cannot have a successful sales department without a process to make everyone better.  The talented individuals are simply not enough; you need to create and train talent to optimize performance.


Want more on good processes? Read Flavil’s, No More Cold Calls

Cover photo courtesy of Rosemary Demirkok

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