March 28th, 2018

Sales organizations today are being challenged to do more with less. With ever-rising quotas and a continuously changing marketplace, it’s important to communicate clear expectations. A sales competency framework facilitates this. It states what skills, knowledge, and behaviors are expected for each position. This simplifies hiring, training, and performance measurement. Such a useful asset is unique to each organization, since it’s aligned with corporate goals and priorities. When created properly, a sales competency framework has been found to improve hiring, increase training focus, and elevate performance outcomes.

Understanding sales competencies

So many organizations have historically conducted training and failed to measure their results. The challenge has been, how to go about actually measuring progress and recognizing results. An effective sales competency framework not only makes it possible to know when training and coaching are having a positive impact, it makes measurement easier too because it identifies desired end results.

These frameworks spell out specific profiles of ideal sales people too. This minimizes hiring errors because there’s clarity around what characteristics and abilities the best candidates should possess.

They detail the end goal of behaviors, skills, and knowledge so benchmarking of teams and individuals is simplified. Plus, they establish measurement criteria to utilize during development.

Overall, a sales competency framework lets you deliver a development program with the potential to change behavior for the better. It results in improved performance and a measurable return on investment.

How to create a sales competency framework

Now that you know what a sales competency framework is, let’s look at how to create one for your organization. Keep in mind that this is an evolutionary process that may take some time. Once you work through it, you’ll want to refine and update it periodically so it changes as your organization and marketplace do.

Start by identifying the competencies for each of your difference sales roles. They should define the knowledge, skills, and attributes needed to perform the jobs effectively. Be sure that these are all measurable and determine how they will be measured.

As you determine which competencies best represent each role, involve various people in the process. These should include top performers in your sales force as well as sales management. This will increase acceptance and use of competencies once they are implemented, plus it prevents inclusion of irrelevant competencies.

To ensure that the most important competencies are included in the framework, information should be collected for each role. It can be collected in several ways:

  • Observing of individuals while performing their roles.
  • Interviews of people in each role either in small groups or individually.
  • Questionnaires may be used to gather data relating to roles.

When putting it all together, define each of the key characteristics across a range of performance levels for easy measurement and benchmarking. These competencies need to be aligned with sales force strategies, processes, and goals so they drive the desired results of your organization.

As you implement the competency framework, remember to communicate the end goal clearly. This will increase acceptance and utilization as well as results. The framework should be a handy tool and reference for all who use it. Don’t forget to enlist feedback to facilitate adjustments and updates on a routine basis.

Having an established sales competency framework improves communication by proving a common language for describing effectiveness across your organization. It provides a vocabulary and examples for use by management when discussing performance with employees. Plus, it creates greater consistency and objectivity when assessing performance. This model reduces mistakes in recruitment and new hire selection. And, most importantly, individual employees can see a clear path for personal development and progress in their current and future roles. This simplifies the entire training and development planning and implementation process. If this is what you want for your organization, it’s time to get started developing your sales competency framework.