Resolution comes through experimentation. Only stepping out of the old ruts will bring new insights.
— Andrew S. Grove--Only the Paranoid Survive

Is Building a Winning Sales Team as Simple as Following a Proven Recipe?

If I want to bake a chocolate cake, I’ll pull out a recipe book. Then I’ll follow the directions and in about an hour and a half or so I’ll have a cake. If you just follow a recipe, you’ll get predictable results. Right?

Except every time I try to bake a chocolate cake, it never comes out quite the same. Sometimes they’re good , sometimes they’re burnt, other times they just taste like a cardboard sponge. (Not sure I’ve ever eaten a cardboard sponge, but you get the point.)

I consult a cake expert...he tells me it’s all about the ingredients. So I go out and get the best chocolate one can buy in the United States.

I go back to the kitchen and try again. And I have to admit, the cake does taste better with high quality ingredients.

But if I put my cake up against Anna Olsen, a professionally trained pastry chef, she’ll still beat me. Even if she gets her cake ingredients from Target and uses a 2 star recipe she’s never baked before off the internet.

Why would Anna Olsen beat me in a bake-off?

chocolate cake

Probably because Anna has baked hundreds of cakes. And she’d developed better baking skills than I have. She’s not overly reliant on recipes like I am at this stage in her career.

And when Anna doesn’t have the “perfect” ingredients, or the best recipe, she can still get creative and improvise. She knows how to do that. Because she can rely on her own judgement.

What works for Anna in the kitchen won’t necessarily work for me...I still feel most comfortable leaning on the highest-quality ingredients and the “best” recipes to help my cakes taste better. I’m still learning.

Anna’s already learned how to go beyond finding perfect recipes and ingredients...she can create a cake with Target ingredients that will surpass my best efforts every time.

Building a winning sales team isn’t always about finding the perfect sales candidates with the perfect background.

Because perfect employees don’t exist.  

This is logical, and just about anyone will agree. Until it’s time to hire for your sales team.

Hiring solid employees who are compelled to succeed is certainly a step in the right direction towards building a winning sales team.

But there’s certainly no magic recipe or personality test that will clearly tell you who to hire. 

Although I’ve had clients spend thousands of dollars hoping to find sales testing nirvana. After buying into tests for awhile, eventually they all come to the same conclusion: tests make generalizations and provide some insights into some candidates, but they can’t be depended on to make your hiring decisions for you.

Sometimes as a leader, you have to get creative, make grey-line decisions, and place your bets.

So what’s the number one way to build a successful sales team?

Like Anna, sometimes you just have to make the most of what you have with the best of what’s available to you at the time.

The rest comes from trial and error, experience, and creating solutions to manage skill gaps rather than going on an endless search for the “perfect employee.”