Hiring Salespeople

If you think that selling is a skill-based profession and the skills can be objectively quantified then your business will suffer mediocre sales performance.

As businesses grow there are a number of hurdles to be surmounted to get to the next level and one of the first is in hiring a quality sales team. The problem is that very few people know what a good salesperson looks like – if they talk the talk can they walk the walk?

Often the answer is no!

Even success in a similar company in the same industry does not guarantee even mediocre performance let alone star performance.

Why is this the case?

Successful selling is only partially based on learned skills. Product knowledge, presentation skills, public speaking, grooming, organization and the ability to read people are learned. They are also skills that are often in the arsenal of the top sales performer.

This is where the confusion comes into play for the business owner or manager trying to identify and hire the best. In reality they are trying to measure what cannot be measured. The CV that is sitting on your desk is practically worthless as an indicator of performance.

What about tests?

Psychometric has a role but cannot indicate deep internal commitment to work against all odds to achieve success – psychometric testing can not measure ‘spirit’.

I have sold for years in many, many different kinds of environments. I have known some great salespeople who have mostly succeeded but have also failed. I have seen salespeople earn as much as £50,000.00 in a day in commission in one job and in others find themselves absolutely at the bottom of the food chain. This is not uncommon amongst top performers who need to find an internal commitment to a result in order to succeed. The best sales performers are not machines!

So how can you predict success?

Let me be clear – this article is not about basic competency. If you need to hire a warm body to politely answer the telephone and take orders in a professional and accurate manner then carefully reviewing a CV and psychometrics test will be valuable.

If, however, you want a star performer to transform your business and go out there and make it rain – a rainmaker – you need a different approach.

Massive success in selling – the top 5% that earn ten times more than the average performer is often the result of a simple decision, an emotional trigger that turns an average performer into a Rainmaker – recent research in sport performance backs this up.

I learned this in my own life doing something completely unrelated to selling. I have generally been a slim to average build but during two or three periods have put on quite a bit of weight – an extra forty pounds.  I struggled with weight loss, diets and personal trainers and only lost a few pounds.  Just like everybody else.

That was until I made a decision. 

Something clicked inside when I was twenty-seven and I lost forty pounds in twelve weeks. Again in my early forties I lost thirty-five pounds in thirty-two days. Massive, rapid weight loss, without drugs or assistance and the weight stayed off for years. People asked me how I did it and I couldn’t tell them. I just ate well, exercised and the weight disappeared.

What was the answer? I made a decision – a deep personal commitment to change and the weight loss was easy, rapid and permanent.  The change was rapid, massive and long-term.

Many top-performers do not even recognize this in themselves. They will say they work harder or have certain strategies – but most successful people cannot accurately recognize the source of their own power.

Research studies have proven that the majority of top performers in business, music and sports have had a trigger moment that produced a deep and lasting commitment to success. Research has shown that those who have these trigger moments tend to outperform better skilled competitors by 400% over the long-term. These studies were interestingly portrayed in The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. An everyday example of this is that immigrants tend to outperform locals because of the struggle to get the opportunity that others may have taken for granted.

This is what the best salespeople have – a deep commitment to sell at a high level.

As a salesperson, I know that when ‘I decide’ to sell that it happens – there is never any doubt and never any failure!

Identifying that commitment is tough and requires reading deep between the lines to understand the truth about somebody.  In sales recruitment t requires an interview style that allows the candidate lots of time to talk and open up. It also requires some serious listen skills.  When I interview job candidates during a sales recruitment process I typically speak only five to seven minutes during an hour-long interview.

Having done more than 20,000 sales presentation in my life, and interviewed hundred of salespeople I listen for:

1)    The understanding of what comprises a successful sales process – the vision.

2)    The ability to technically sell and relate to others – the tools.

3)    The deep inner desire to succeed no matter what – the why!

With a big enough ‘why’ anything is possible!

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