SUCCESS STORIES

Outdoor Power Products

The Client

The company is the world’s largest producer of outdoor power products, including chainsaws, trimmers, lawn mowers, and garden tractors. The company is also the European leader in consumer watering products and one of the world leaders in cutting equipment and diamond tools for the construction and stone industries. The company offers innovative, quality products and solutions to make garden, park, and forest care and construction easier for professionals and consumers around the world.

 

Background

A Caliper client for 7 years, the company is a global leader in commercial and residential equipment. Following changes in the marketplace and new business demands, the company needed its Territory Sales Representatives (TSR), whose previous focus had solely been on power-tools sales, to begin selling parts and accessories, which had become the company’s most profitable area. Previously, parts and accessories sales were covered by an entirely separate role. In order to take inventory of its talent pool, find out what differentiated its top performers from merely marginal ones, and determine the individuals who were successfully growing both revenue streams, The company collaborated on a study with Caliper.

 

The Business Challenge

The company’s decision to shift the focus and responsibilities of its TSRs was met with some resistance by those who were more comfortable with the core product line. However, the company recognized that the parts and accessories business was a vital part of the role, and it needed to identify the TSRs who were successfully growing both lines of the business. Moreover, the company wanted to home in on the behaviors that needed to be augmented by those who were not meeting the performance requirements.

Since beginning its relationship with Caliper, the company has been utilizing the Caliper Profile when selecting new TSRs. Based on what Caliper experts know about the relationship between personality and the TSR position at the company, they have been able to provide “matched” or “not matched” recommendations for each candidate being considered by the company for the position.

The current case study compared actual, as opposed to potential, performance between these two groups. To do this, Caliper collected performance metrics from the company on a sample group of 33 TSRs who are currently in the position. After separating employees into groups of “matched” or “not matched,” based on the recommendation given on one’s Caliper Profile, four data points were considered:

  • Average Year-to-Date (YTD) Sales, Overall – quantitative

  • Average YTD Sales, Parts and Accessories – quantitative

  • Manager Subjective ratings (between 1 and 5) – qualitative

  • Behavioral Performance Survey ratings* (between 1 and 5) – qualitative

*A Caliper-provided survey in which managers evaluated current TSRs on job-related behaviors.

 

The Strategic Solution

Caliper took a holistic approach to performance by combining the qualitative and quantitative measures mentioned above. After statistically mapping the Caliper Profile traits to the combined performance measure, Caliper was able to ascertain the key traits and behaviors that define a top-performing TSR.

Following a comprehensive look at all four data points, Caliper found that those in the “matched” group performed 10 percent better in the area of selling parts and accessories. In terms of average YTD sales, “matched” individuals outperformed their “not matched” counterparts by an average of 8 percent, with a range up to 16 percent.

Moreover, Caliper identified specific traits that were positively correlated to a TSR’s performance:

  • Ego-Drive: TSRs have an innate desire to persuade people and win others’ commitment, which helps them succeed in a sales role such as this.

  • Assertiveness: TSRs tend to communicate in a direct and straightforward manner. They have the ability to express their thoughts firmly and consistently, too.

  • Aggressiveness: This group of TSRs is likely to take a firm approach and can be forceful when defending its ideas or actions.

  • Risk-Taking: TSRs are willing to take chances on untested initiatives, and they are comfortable with risking potential failure in order to achieve sales success.

  • Idea Orientation: The company TSRs seem motivated to think outside the box and to develop original solutions when working with customers and potential clients.

Based on this information, Caliper recognized a strong statistical correlation coefficient between the TSR job and a archetypal Sales - Account Development position, in which a salesperson is required to grow business from existing accounts and identify new business opportunities.

From Caliper’s experience, in a typical Account Development position, behaviors such as building relationships, growing existing books of business, and demonstrating product value represent essential behavioral tendencies. Now, when matching people to this role in the future, The company will have a strong rubric against which to judge a job candidate, which will improve its odds of hiring top performers based on this proven Model of Success.

Managers’ feedback on the survey data also showed that even those who were deemed to be top performers have room for growth, especially in the areas of managing their time and showing the resilience to overcome objections. The company can now begin to tailor training exercises in order to bridge these developmental gaps and place their best salespeople in a position to augment their already-strong performances.

 

The Results

Each organizational culture and job is unique; while top-performing company TSRs displayed many attributes that aligned perfectly with those of successful individuals in typical Account Development-related positions, a few key differences emerged. Namely, the trait of Urgency was consistently lower for top-performing TSRs at the company. Interviews conducted with the internal company team revealed that under the evolving job model, TSRs are expected to contend with a longer sales cycle in which they now have to sell to large retailers and local stores. Therefore, traditional “hunter” salespeople, who frequently prefer a quick close, became frustrated; conversely, those who were inclined to exhibit more patience tended to fare better in the changing role.

Furthermore, TSRs who are performing well displayed strong degrees of Idea Orientation, which suggests that top performers in this role are more apt to be creative during the sales process in order to win business and grow the parts and accessories line. This trait can be particularly important for a position that requires people to think outside of the box and challenge the status quo.

This case study demonstrates that individuals whom Caliper “matched” to the TSR role at the company are outperforming their “not matched” counterparts by 10 to 16 percent, on average. The “matched” group also outpaced the “not matched” subset in all four data points.

Going forward, Caliper’s findings will be used to improve the quality of hires for the TSR role as well as to enhance the effectiveness of incumbents. Caliper will also revisit this information annually to ensure that performance continues to be on-track and aligned with the company’s goals and mission.