It may be your personal bias and definition of what makes a great salesperson that is getting in the way of great hires.
Great salespeople are made not born, but they are made a long time before they ever show up on your doorstep. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about people needing 10,000 hours of concentrated practice at something to be truly expert in it. This experience generally comes very early in someone’s life.
Many of the attributes that make someone a great salesperson are soft skills that are learned and imbedded in that person’s psyche long before they even contemplate a career in sales. By the very nature of the work itself, successful salespeople possess a unique set of personality attributes that enable them to succeed. There are five key qualities that are essential for success:
Empathy. The ability to identify with customers, to feel what they are feeling and make customers feel respected.
Focus. The ability to articulate goals clearly, stay attentive to one topic and assign timelines.
Responsibility. The ability to take action when situations require action and a person with a strong sense of responsibility does not place blame on other people when placed in a difficult situation.
Optimism. The ability to focus on what can be done as opposed to what cannot be accomplished.
Ego-drive. Persistence for the purpose of succeeding and above all winning.
These are also not easy things to uncover in an interview process and may transcend extroverted and introverted, gregarious and soft spoken people and everything in between.
In order to improve your batting average you should apply some science to your selection process. First and foremost find a good psychometric assessment tool that will identify the key characteristics and traits required to succeed in your sales environment and give it to your top sales performers. You may want to try the Profile Sales Assessment which measures twenty key qualities and seven critical sales behaviours.
Use the results to create benchmarks for all future hires. This is what is referred to as your sales DNA profile. If you do the job right and commit to the process, whether you are hiring for a senior or junior position, your hires will have what it takes to become great sales representatives for your company.
It’s a lot better than picking someone based on a well written résumé and your gut instincts.
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