Territory. Timing. Talent. The software seller’s non-scientific formula for the secret algorithm to success. The 3 variables to determine success in a patch have rarely been disputed, but the weighting of each variable will churn up feisty discussion at the drop of a hat. Not sure there’s a right or wrong answer, but if you’re looking for a fist fight in a bar, tell another software seller that talent deserves the heaviest weighting. After all, no one ever admits they got out-sold…so it MUST be the other 2 T’s. Yawn…another lazy seller who simply isn’t honest with himself.
When I look at my biggest W-2s from an empirical lens, I can say (with passion) that talent was by far the leading actor in the movie. Haughty? Perhaps. After all, if talent played such a big role, why weren’t all my years laden with club trips, rolex watches, and mortgage note-burning ceremonies? Glad you asked. Allow me to splain myself:
- When you are fortunate enough to manage, you see some bigger picture observations that reps are unable to see. Great territories all have some common attributes: an active pipeline usually 3-5X, multiple coaches who are raving fans, identified path to funding for each initiative, and of course…companies who have capacity to buy big. It’s always quite interesting to observe the reps who are “A’s” have the healthiest territories. When you break-down the attributes of a healthy patch, those require tactics and actions over time to build. Simply put, decisions you make or don’t make will put you in position to have the best territory. So, when I study the years that I didn’t have good W-2s, they were either riddled with poor selling decisions or I was in process of building.
- In grad school, I conducted research on the concept of locus of control in various professions. Locus of control is a fancy way of defining the notion that people have control over the outcome of events in their lives, as opposed to external forces beyond their control. My study concluded, there is a corelative between higher paying jobs having a lower locus of control. I will admit, a software seller’s job has tons of uncontrollable variables that can determine success or failure. Poor earnings, a coach being fired, unknown political agendas that are only revealed at the quarterly board meeting are all examples of common events outside your hands that can de-rail a software deal. If I’m real honest, only a small fraction of my losses over the years can be chalked-up to uncontrollable events like these. The rest were simply because…I got out-sold.
- I was fortunate to manage a rep who had about $7M stashed away (100% earned and none inherited) after 20 years of selling software. He wasn’t particularly dynamic or magical in any one category, but rather had a simple approach to his job that made him different – when no one else was looking, he was working. He was disciplined and regimented in his daily tasks.
No doubt territory and timing make a difference, but talent is the star of the show. The quicker you’re more honest about this equation, the more accountable you’ll become – and the more lute will come your way!