As we wrap up the year here at Sales Training Drivers, we decided to take a look back at some of our previous posts. This one stuck out, because even though it was written over a year ago, the principles still apply today. So we ask: what are some ways to dispel these myths? What can companies do to create effective and meaningful quotas? Is cold calling the best use of a salesperson's time? Let us know in the comments!

If you stop any salesperson on the street and ask them if they are good at what they do, chances are, they will all say "yes!" But ask their manager, marketing department, customer service area, human resources department (or any other function of the firm), and chances are the answer is "no." The difference in defining sales competence is a matter of perspective.

Compounding the problem are two myths regarding measures of competency in sales.

Myth#1: Quota performance does not equate to sales competency - A salesperson's quota is usually determined by management. More often than not, the quota is set as a way to attain a goal of an increased share price or it's just pulled out of the air as a "nice-to-have-number" that is bigger than last year.

It's a rare organization that can articulate how a quota was set. It's even rarer to find an organization that sits down to do the sales math and determine the realistic quota and stretch quota for their salespeople. Without this understanding, how do you know if the quota is too high? How do you know if it's too low? You don't!

Therefore the salesperson that hits quota in an organization that doesn't know how to set one is not proving his or her competence.

Myth#2: Activity level does not equate to sales competency - Many organizations set sales activity goals. They will ask their salespeople to accomplish X sales calls, X phone calls, and X proposals a day. These types of measurements, and constantly hitting them, do not mean the person can sell.

Sure, there is a positive correlation between activity and selling, but if I play the lottery every single day I probably won't win. If I play X lottery games, in X states, and with X amount of money, it doesn't mean I'm driving towards a win. It simply means I'm increasing my chances.

I'd rather have someone that knows exactly what they are doing and not playing the lottery with their sales territory.

So what exactly is sales competency? Competence is defined as someone's knowledge, skill and internal motivation. Knowledge is the building block of competence. Effective sales professionals are continuously learning and they have developed a framework and process for accessing their knowledge. They have a solid knowledge foundation and they understand their strengths and weaknesses.

Skill is determined by the knowledge a salesperson has gained plus their experience level. The most skilled sales professionals have stayed in one vertical market or industry for a longer period of time. They have also stayed in the same sales role for a longer length of time (such as outside sales). They have also followed a defined career path with increasing levels of responsibility and complexity of sale.

Internal motivation is someone's self talk, drive, and purpose. Their passion for the product, zeal for the organization where they work, and their positive attitude form the cornerstone for the ability to overcome objections, handle rejection, or deal with poorly set sales quotas.

A competent sales person has the ability to move into any organization and gain the trust of the decision-makers. They work to create a situation where buying can occur within an ethical environment at a fair price. They have the knowledge to speak to a CEO, the front-line manager, or the newest employee about what issues and challenges they face.

Most of all, they strive to increase their knowledge, skill, and motivation so they can be the best at what they do.