28 Sales Skills to Identify When Hiring Better Salespeople

In this Sales Brew, we ask the question, “Are you looking to hire better salespeople or are you looking to hire salespeople that will simply replace your former employees?” 

According to Geoff Smart of Topgrading, 75% of new hires do not perform as well as the employee they replace, or they perform just as well as the person they replace. In order to hire better people, you must know what you’re looking for!

So, what are you looking for in your next great salesperson?  I guess the most important question is this: Are you looking to hire better salespeople or are you looking to hire salespeople that will simply replace your former employees?  Will you settle for someone that is “at least as good as” the most average salesperson on your team?

No one in their right mind would say “yes” to those questions, but if your sales organization is large enough, the data would support that your hiring practices are getting you exactly that.  According to Geoff Smart (Topgrading), 75% of the hires do not perform as well as the employee they replace, or they perform just as well as the person they replace.

If we were to look at the 80/20 power curve in your organization, we would probably find out what we normally do – that about 36% of the sales force is responsible for over 90% of your sales results.  So, what is the other 64% doing?  How did they end up on your sales team?

In order to hire better people, you have to know what you are looking for in your next hire.

Here is the list of 28 sales traits to identify when hiring new salespeople that we’ve come up with after analyzing the sales teams of 5 of our clients in the financial services/banking business:

    1. Strong desire for success in selling
    2. Strong commitment/motivated to do everything possible to succeed in selling
    3. Trainable
    4. Has a strong “figure-it-out” factor
    5. Possesses Sales DNA Competencies
    6. Has no Need for Approval
    7. Controls emotions
    8. Has supportive beliefs
    9. Comfortable discussing money
    10. Handles rejection
    11. Is a Hunter
    12. Sales posturing
    13. Consultative seller
    14. Qualifier
    15. Closer
    16. Follows consistent sales process
    17. Compatibility with top performer profile
    18. Prospects consistently
    19. Schedules meetings
    20. Reaches decision makers
    21. Recovers from rejection
    22. Does not need to be liked
    23. Comfortable talking about money
    24. Has a strong self-image
    25. Loves to win
    26. Motivated by recognition
    27. Loves competing with others
    28. Rejection proof

What I find interesting about some of the items is that there are a few that have a significant variance between the performers and non-performers:

  1. Commitment – The commitment to succeed in selling is 77% GREATER in performers than in non-performers.
  2. The trainability factor in performers is 34% HIGHER.
  3. The hunter skill in performers is 112% HIGHER.
  4. Performers have a 48% HIGHER figure-it-out factor.
  5. Performers score 119% HIGHER in handling rejection.
  6. Those that hit sales goals score 87% HIGHER in sales posturing
  7. This one blows me away – neither group is particularly strong in closing: non-performers have only 13% of the closing skills required.  Even though top performers OUTSCORE their counter-parts by 150%, they still only have 33% of the required closing skills.

How do you explain that last item?  Look at the others strengths:  Desire, commitment, trainability, hunter, figure-it-out qualifier, consultative, posturing… they are REJECTION proof!

The purpose of this post is to get you to think more seriously about what it is that you really know about the candidates you are looking to hire, as well as what you really need to know before proceeding with the interview and hiring steps.

From Founder & Chief Learning Officer, Tony Cole

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