Hiring Top Sales Performers

by | Jul 6, 2011 | Sales Coaching, Sales Strategy | 0 comments

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Over the years a lot of research has been done trying to pinpoint whether salespeople are “made” or “born,” what characteristics top sales performers have in common and what drives them to succeed.

Considering the high costs involved with employee turnover, who doesn’t want to be able to find and hire the best of the best?

Knowing what to look for is a great place to start.

Steve Martin, who teaches sales strategy at the USC Marshall School of Business, recently wrote a blog post for the Harvard Business Review entitled Seven Personality Traits of Top Salespeople.

A decade’s worth of interviews and research led him to put forth the main key attributes of top salespeople and how those attributes influence their selling style. The attributes he identified include: modesty, conscientiousness, curiosity, lack of gregariousness, lack of discouragement and lack of self-consciousness.

Back in 1964, David Mayer and Herbert M. Greenberg published an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled, What Makes a Good Salesman. Triggered by what they describe as “an obvious need for a better method of sales selection” (high costs of hiring, high turnover rates and loss of company reputation) they embarked upon seven years of research. What they found is that the most successful salespeople possess a unique combination of empathy and ego drive. Empathy to take the time to listen, to understand their customer’s wants, needs and concerns, ego drive (a need to succeed) to keep them motivated when things get tough.

Based on the above information, you know that ideally you need to look for individuals who are (among other things) modest, conscientious, empathetic, thick skinned and interna

lly motivated. What you don’t know is how that person will fit within your own sales model or if they will mesh with your organizational culture. This can only be learned by a bit of introspection – by studying the characteristics of the individuals who thrive in YOUR organization and transferring that knowledge into your hiring procedures.

This is exceedingly important because, as you know, the term “sales professional” is not one-size fits all and the variables (be they the product or service, inside sales vs. outside sales, the amount of travel or teamwork required, the office environment, etc.) can have a huge impact on job satisfaction and, concurrently, longevity.

Understand your corporate culture. Define the job. Define the character traits that best suit the job and select your candidates accordingly.

As we wrote in our July 2010 article, Finding and Hiring Great Salespeople, each candidate should go through several layers of interviews, meeting with team members as well as management and human resources. One-on-one interviews work well for screening, but as the candidate moves along in the selection process interviews should be done in teams to give the interviewers the chance to bounce ideas and perceptions off one another.

Personality and strength testing is also a good way to identify sales aptitude and affirm or deny perceived strengths and weaknesses in candidates.

Points to think about:

  • Do you have a distinct understanding of the type of person who will succeed in your organization?
  • Do you have a defined hiring process?
  • Who is involved in your hiring procedure – Are you getting the team involved?
  • What criteria are used in making hiring decisions? – Opinion, personality tests, strength testing?

Hiring the “right” sales professional(s) can be critical to both your immediate needs and long term success. Why take a chance? Instead, leverage NuGrowth’s recruiting expertise and 30 years of experience hiring over 1,000 sales executives to help you make the right choice.