Developing B2B sales capabilities

Why is capability so important to sales success?

Well, it is one of the foundations of high performing sales teams. The best sales leaders are able to develop and improve the RIGHT capabilities in order to deliver success. And by doing so they raise the bar in terms of overall performance.

Capability is a core element of the sales performance equation, and relates to the abilities of the individuals involved. It is pivotal in the overall YOU CAN GROW model for improving sales performance.

Sales performance = Capability x Activity x iNspiration


I have found that, for some though, the issue of capability starts and ends at the drafting of a job description, where recruitment drives people to write a job spec and include all of the things they can think of that a person needs to do. Once recruited, a typical sales manager might well revert back to discussions based on activity tracking, outcomes (pipeline and wins etc.) and forget the issues related to people development.

Best practice companies do things a little differently, they coach and focus development.

Personally, I have always taken the development of people in my team very seriously. Whether they were a P.A, a senior salesperson or someone close to retirement, it has always been a priority to take time out for the development of new skills.

What do I mean by ‘capabilities’?

Capabilities relate to the skills (can you do something) and the behaviours (how you do something) associated with a particular role.

A good example of this is a surgical consultant who requires the skills (knife skills, anatomy understanding etc.) to do operations. But this on their own this is not enough to being a good surgical consultant (as anyone who complains about a consultant will often tell you). They also need to be able to successfully demonstrate the right behaviours (bedside manner, communication, leadership etc.) to be able to use their skills in the most effective manner.

Which sales capabilities?

But which skills and capabilities do you need to develop? The straight answer is, “it depends”, on the individual you are trying to coach and the context of the sales expectations you have of them.

Do your salespeople have the skills and behaviours you need so they can effectively execute against expectations?

Defining what good looks like for that individual at that point in time requires a starting point. That is “what do you need them to be good at” if they are going to be a success in the role. For each of you this will be different, as your company culture, approach, offer, complexities, geographies and many other things will differ from one person to the next.
We often work with clients to define and shape performance frameworks (as we call them) which defines the things that a person needs to be good at. This is a great starting point for assessing the capabilities in your team.

Opposite is a link to two performance frameworks for B2B sales and sales management. You can use these as a starting point to finalise the most important capabilities for your business. As a sales manager, do you know which of these are most important for your success?

What do you do with the performance framework?

You need to make them your own for maximum impact. We have included more than you need and there will be things missing that you feel are important to you. That’s great, add them! Next try this:

Take 15 minutes to prioritise the top 5 points in your framework: “what are the priorities for individuals your business?”

Define a standard of ‘good performance’ for each: “how would you measure and assess an individual’s performance for each of your five points?”

Look for evidence regarding individual performance in your team: “how does each person compare to each of these prioritised elements?”

Communicate these standards/expectations to the team and ask that they think themselves about how they could improve in these areas.

When these capabilities are applied to the right activities (see next message in the series) and the team feel iNspired to improve, then performance will improve. No doubt.

We will share later in the series some thoughts about how you then approach the coaching conversations needed to develop these capabilities in your team.

I hope this helps you to think about the people dimension of sales performance. YOU CAN GROW will help you focus on the right aspects so stay with us through the programme.

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