LAS VEGAS – Sales Leadership Excellence is complex, and involves performance factors well beyond product knowledge, sales techniques, CRMs, and sales funnels. It’s essentially about understanding the inborn qualities of top sales people who are instinctively and obsessively driven to influence customer behavior, and then creating teams of only those people.
Anyone can be a sales rep, but only a special category of reps eclipse all others as peak-performers; typically the top 20%. Does this apply at your company? Would profits improve if the bottom 80% of your team sold more like the top 20%? If so, following is guidance for more predictably identifying, hiring, and developing peak-performers for your team.
Hire Passion – Develop Skills – Teach Products
All reps are defined by knowledge, skills, and personal qualities. That is: what they know; their learned abilities for impacting a sales process; and inborn personal attributes supporting success, and motivation. Note, knowledge and skills can be learned and developed. Personal qualities are in-born, hard-wired, and cannot be acquired.
Despite this, interviews frequently focus on knowledge, skills, and past experiences, rather than identifying the existence of vital personal qualities that instinctively drive natural-born sales talent to future success. Past sales performance only predicts future results when personal qualities, skills, and knowledge closely align with a specific sales process.
Recruiting the right player for each position requires knowing what game you are playing.
Different sales processes demand unique sales talents, competencies, and preferences. Some require short-cycle super-closers; others demand reps that can develop business over time. Rarely will a rep be effective if managing multiple sales processes.
Sales process variables are specific requirements: territory size; tangible products vs. concepts; short or long sales cycles, etc. Reps who hate travel, but hired for large territories, will avoid distant customers.
A common mistake: reps are hired for knowledge and fired for personality.
Does this hiring mistake sound familiar? “Bill was a respiratory therapist before having 10 successful sales years at XYZ HME. He knows our referral sources and products well. But he can’t close any new business and doesn’t like to cold call. He had a strong past sales record, but we must let him go. Obviously Bill changed.”
Bill was hired for knowledge, skills, and his past sales record, and then fired for lacking requisite personal qualities, and a miss-match with his new sales process. A costly hiring mistake! Bill is a natural “long-term business developer”, not a natural “short-term closer”.
All Great Sales Reps share personal qualities that instinctively drive their behavior:
• Sociability Self-Structure
• Flexibility Thoroughness
• External Structure
Various levels of each inborn personal quality support an effective match with sales processes. Super-closers possess high ego-drive and assertiveness. Long-term business developers additionally require high levels of accommodation and empathy supporting stamina for protracted sales processes.
Discovering the presence and appropriate mix of eighteen vital personal qualities during an interview is virtually impossible for hiring managers. Candidates may “appear” extroverted during an interview, but they “may” only be displaying extroverted behavior during that discussion.
Unless you’re a psychologist with vast experience studying the personal qualities of peak-performing sales reps, use a company that does. Cost-effective highly-predictive tests exist; I have used one for 20+ years. Hiring without this insight is a risky practice, frequently leading to expensive hiring mistakes.
Creating Peak Performance Demands Focus on People First!
• Hire only natural-born sales talent with personal qualities and competencies closely aligned with your sales process; train them appropriately; maximize selling time; and maintain an environment where they feel motivated, appreciated, fairly compensated, professionally growing, and happy.
• Use predictive personal qualities tests to identify reps that can instinctively drive your sales process.
• Upgrade you poor and average reps; make room for more naturally-talented sales excellence!
Jack Welch said: “Measure your people and take action on those that don’t measure up,” and “lead change before you have to.” It is great advice for upgrading your team to only peak-performers.
See Kenneth live at The Mike Sperduti Sales Management Workshop, scheduled for Monday, March 30, from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The workshop features: Mike Strange, vice president, Emerge Sales Inc; Ryan Ball, director of State Policy/director of OPGA Government Relations, VGM & Associates; and Kenneth Waters, global strategic advisor, Emerge Sales Inc. Click Here to register.
Kenneth Waters is global strategic advisor for Emerge Sales, and founder of Sales/Growth/Solutions.