Technology is not making sales teams better

"And all of these gurus who, we spend millions of dollars on scouting and everything ... How everybody missed him is just, it's really amazing." - Robert Craft on selecting Tom Brady with the very last pick in the 6th Round of the 2000 NFL Draft.

The 2018 NFL Draft kicks off this week, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent over the last twelve months by NFL teams executing the most visible, extensive, expensive and exhaustive talent process ever seen; evaluating over 3,500 of the best college football players in the country. 32 teams will now turn all their attention, data, resources and knowledge to selecting the best 256 college football players in the world through 7 Rounds of the NFL Draft. So, how effective will they be? The numbers from past performance will surprise you! Of the 32 players drafted in the first round, the 32 best, “can’t miss” players in the world, only 10 will end up starting in the NFL. The next best 32 players, selected in the 2nd Round? Only 6 of those players will start in the NFL. In fact, and most interesting, Free Agents, those college players not selected in the draft, were the third largest group, the numbers show that 14% of them will start this Fall in the NFL. If you are a Free Agent you have a better chance at being in the 2018 season starting line up then all the players selected in rounds 3-7 combined! These Free Agents aren’t typically more talented than all those drafted before them, however they end up being the RIGHT talent for the needs of that team.

How hard is it to find the next Tom Brady? Quarterback JaMarcus Russel was the first player selected in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. Russell was the definition of a can't-miss prospect. The most talented player in the draft with a 6-foot-6, 260-pound frame and an absolute cannon for an arm, every team envisioned him developing into a superstar. It never happened. Russell was released after the 2009 season and labeled one of the top 15 biggest busts in the NFL Draft history. Unfortunately, the NFL and your company are littered with stories like this. These failures are rarely a case of lack of talent, and most often are a result of poor fit.

Why is it so hard?

You need not to look any further than your own sales teams to see the same pattern as the NFL. Best-In-Class sales Teams achieve around 85%, in aggregate, of assigned quota to the field. However, you look deeper and, in most cases, less than 50% (52% Software, Harvard Business Review) of reps are actually hitting quota. You see it all the time, the same people consistently at the top, performing at a level that is 2-10x that of the rest of the team. The top 30% of your team generally make up 80%+ (studies vary) of your total company performance. You think, “if I could just get 5 more of Sally Superstar, we would be blowing away our numbers”. The same statistic goes for talent in all areas of your company. I have even been told, “Joe, it’s pretty easy, just go hire more people like Joe Stud and Sally Superstar!”. Really?

Finding and hiring the RIGHT talent is the number one challenge in companies today. Your company can have the killer technology, a great brand, message, on-boarding process and training, but it takes the RIGHT talent, in the right roles to make it work. Companies don’t grow unless people grow. The RIGHT talent, in the right role, wants to grow both personally and professionally, they want to be on a winning team, and surrounded by others who are just as committed as they are to being the best in the world at what they do. There are so many factors outside of talent alone that contribute to success or failure but most often failure is due to lack of fit. The NFL Draft highlights this, even with its unlimited resources, success in selecting the RIGHT talent is often less than a 50/50 proposition. Tom Brady, arguably the most successful NFL Quarterback in history, was the last player selected in the second to last round. Bill Belichick, arguably the most successful NFL coach in history and Tom Brady’s coach, personnel rules are notably unique — he cares less about talent than he does fit. As leaders, this is our biggest area of impact, identifying the RIGHT talent, aligning that talent to the right roles and then doing everything possible to support their personal and professional growth. Companies don’t grow, people grow, and companies grow as a result.


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