Companies often rely on a series of disconnected databases to manage activities such as tracking applicants, onboarding new employees, and monitoring performance. For sales teams, which often experience high turnover, there can be advantages in connecting these systems to a digital talent hub. Doing so can speed up hiring and onboarding cycles, identify patterns in how hires with specific backgrounds benefit from certain types of training, and better utilize the artificial intelligence to persuade salespeople to specific actions. All these things can increase the productivity and performance of salespeople.
B2B salespeople turnover averages between 25% and 50%, and that means that for many companies, sales hiring, onboarding, coaching, and training are always in high gear. That’s why it’s important to reduce the four to nine months it takes to hire and develop salespeople (even experienced employees) to meet or exceed acceptable productivity levels. By using data and analytics, marketing organizations are able to acquire, develop, and empower better talent, and do it faster with fewer resources. But the rewards of speed and impact are fully realized when different talent systems work with each other in real time.
Systems for managing sales talent are homegrown, but often from different vendors. Individually, each system is designed to reduce friction and maximize impact in a specific area of talent management. Human Resources (HR) systems streamline employee records, payroll, and benefits for increased efficiency. The Applicant Tracking System organizes resumes and job applications, schedules interviews, and communicates with candidates, reducing the cycle times involved in hiring. Hiring platforms like LinkedIn Recruiter help find and connect with better candidates. The Learning Management System manages and delivers targeted training. Sales Performance Management systems track and help improve sales performance, while Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems facilitate customer interactions.
Marketing organizations can manage talent more market-sensitive and agile by connecting these systems through a constant talent support platform – what we call a digital talent hub. The hub contains digital assets (data, technology, algorithms, and an intelligence engine) that deliver data-based insights into talent management decisions and processes, from designing a success profile, to -acquire, develop, and retain talent, up to enabling sales managers as key participants in these efforts. Through the hub, each system shares data (with appropriate privacy protections) and other digital assets (such as AI capabilities) with other systems in real time.
Although a hub can support talent decisions for any job, the opportunity is particularly strong in sales roles. Sales are rich in metrics to measure opportunities (e.g., customer potential), input/sales activities (e.g., customer visits or digital contacts), and outputs (e.g., sales and revenue). . Sales talent data is constantly changing and decision making is constant. Linked data and systems generate actionable insights to improve and accelerate every sales talent decision and process.
Digital Talent Hub – Getting Value Through Linkages
Although customer relationship management (CRM) and sales performance management (SPM) systems are often linked, most recruitment and learning management systems sit alone, largely because recruitment and training are managed by different groups within HR. Some examples show how the hub facilitates talent processes and improves its impact. With siled systems, each of these tasks can take weeks or months to complete.
Create better development plans for salespeople.
By analyzing linked data from the sales performance management system (results and goal achievement), CRM system (sales activities), and applicant tracking system (salesperson profile), a hub can feed insights in the learning management system so that it can create personalized training. program for each salesperson.
Direct attention to the sales team on what matters most.
A hub enables the coordination of automated nudges generated by different systems, increasing the sales team’s focus on key priorities. Consider an example from an enterprise software sales team.
A CRM system uses AI to share the following insight with a salesperson: “Customer conversion is in 3 days with a potential of $271K. Expansion opportunity for product signup in platform for 6 months. The same salesperson received a semi-manual reminder from the learning management system: “Sign up for the ‘Winning Using LinkedIn’ workshop scheduled at -2 pm on Friday.” A third system that monitors sales performance issues a rule-based nudge: “Congratulations on the $170K win. Two more and you’ll complete your quarterly goal!”
Personalized prompts are timely and can be very effective. The impact can be greater when systems are integrated so that messages are logically sequenced and spaced. This avoids a situation where too many nudges hit almost simultaneously, and the salesperson acts only on the most urgent nudge, or worse, ignores them all. Illustratively, change is likely to precede longer-term investment in training. Additionally, linkages allow nudges to be better targeted at people. A skilled person receives reminders about goal achievement and prompts about change and expansion opportunities, while training is prioritized for a less skilled person.
Implement a new marketing role in half an hour.
The ever-evolving requirements of the sales job impact the ongoing recruitment, onboarding, development, training, retention, and management of sales talent. Analyzing sales performance data can identify the skills and abilities of successful people, providing insights for shaping hiring profiles – in real time. New profiles can be automatically fed into applicant tracking systems so LinkedIn Recruiter can find candidate matches. Once hired, the learning management system is ready to go onboard salespeople. The cycle time from role definition to people working in new roles can be reduced from a year to months. This requires linking all systems and supporting Sales, HR, and Sales Ops teams as they plan and execute processes.
Helping reduce the sales force.
When marketing organizations make the difficult decision to downsize, it’s important to make talent decisions with purpose, while minimizing disruption to customers and the business. Linked talent systems bring speed and fairness to what is often a painful process. Performance correlations with sales, CRM, and HR systems speed up the time to determine who stays and who leaves, based on performance, potential, and key customer relationships. Linkages also help create transition plans for salespeople (those who stay and those who leave) and for disrupted customers.
Many tools are available to help the marketing organization on their journey to a more digital and connected approach to talent management. Oracle, for example, uses its own integrated platform, Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management, to integrate all talent data into a single source of truth. The result is a more connected experience for Oracle employees (including sales team members) — from recruiting and onboarding to performance management, career development, and learning. SAP also offers an integrated solution. However, most companies use what they consider best-in-class solutions from multiple vendors, managed by people from Sales, Sales Operations, IT and Human Resources. Connecting these separate systems can be challenging, but doing so can have a measurable impact.
The capabilities and impact of a digital talent hub will grow over time. Early successes often focus on reducing the time and cost of key steps in talent management, and on improving the quality of talent decisions through improved insight into people and performance. Finally, a tighter coupling of systems makes sales talent management more market-sensitive, agile, and aligned with business strategy.