I get the privilege of speaking with thousands of CEOs about their businesses, their plans to grow and their challenges. The conversation often turns to the question,

“Do I have the right people in sales to really grow?”

From my perspective, it’s a false choice question. If the answer is yes, then the CEO has concluded that sales growth is just about people. If the answer is no, then the CEO will be stuck replacing sales people with institutional knowledge, market and customer contacts and a lot of unrecoverable investment on the company’s part.

Hiring is a risky and murky business at best and then there is the inevitable performance delay called “onboarding.”

Let me offer a different set of questions:

  1. Can your sales people learn?
  2. Will your sales people change?
  3. Do your sales people know that they are “at risk” in your view of the future?

The CEOs who ask about their people, know the truth, “what got you here won’t get you there”. They have just mentally replaced the “what” for  “who” in that analysis.

But, experience tells me that changing the “what,” the company’s process, message and delivery, is more important than changing the “who.”

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