Find Your Sales Rockstars Once and For All

Most CEOs and sales leaders ask me how to grow revenues with the right sales training or the right bizdev tools or the right CRM system.

Few ask, “How do I know if I even have the right people on the team?”

I often ask them, “If you do training, how do you know if it’s successful?”

“How do you measure your success?”  Silence lingers.

Like the medical profession, I want to start with a diagnostic sales review:

  • Do I have the right people?
  • Do they possess robust sales DNA?
  • Do they operate with the right skill set?
  • Do they perform at max potential?

Now, you wouldn’t agree to major surgery without doing an EKG, blood work, x-rays, and the full spectrum of tests to ensure your body is in top condition to withstand the surgery, would you?

Of course not.

So why jump in to change your sales process, systems, or training programs without knowing if the sales talent foundation is solid in the first place?

 

 

Once you’ve identified and hired the right sales talent, you can conduct an intelligent diagnostic to answer these questions and more:

  • Can we be more effective at revenue growth?
  • How much more effective can we be to move the top line?
  • Exactly what will it take to accomplish that?
  • And how long will it take to reach the goal?

But be clear about the talent search. It isn’t about basic personality traits within salespeople; it is about their sales skills, desire to sell, commitment to sell, and sales DNA.

For more than  20 years, Objective Management Group (OMG) sales force evaluation and sales candidate assessment has effectively identified the 21 Sales Core Competencies that lead to world-class sales performance.

I strongly urge you to consider making OMG’s assessment tools a centerpiece of your hiring practices. Its team continuously improves, updates, enhances and perfects the science of evaluating sales forces and candidates unlike any firm I’ve ever encountered. Even better, the OMG evaluation goes well beyond the hiring process; it analyzes your company’s sales processes, systems, people, and strategy.

I define sales DNA as the core combination of strengths (or weaknesses) that support (or sabotage) the execution of sales process, sales strategy and sales tactics.

Four Attributes of Top Salespeople

Five factors must be in place and measured so sales managers know their start point and what demands improvement moving forward.

If your reps do not ignite from within in the following areas, your investment in training or tools will be squandered:

1. Desire: Intrinsic desire is the driving force in top sales reps because it tell you how driven they want to succeed in sales. Your salespeople need that burning desire. Think of the marathon runner who dives across the finish line, battered and bruised, but feels only exhilaration. When desire is not strong, salespeople justify mediocrity and won’t do what you need them to do. Don’t invest in sales reps with low desire.

2. Commitment: Commitment is the single most important finding when evaluating a salesperson’s likelihood to succeed—his or her willingness to do whatever it takes to make the sale (within ethical standards, of course). It’s not about showing up early and staying late; it’s about going the extra mile.

You may think your salespeople are committed, perhaps they talk a good game. But if you do not see the results, their commitment level is only skin deep. A low commitment score means their commitment comes with conditions. Will they do what you want them to do on the condition that it is not too scary or not too difficult. The last thing you need is a sales rep who chokes when the going gets rough. Never invest in a sales rep who isn’t fully committed.

3. Outlook: In studying outlook, you learn how salespeople feel about themselves, the market, the industry, and their company or business. If the salesperson experiences negativity about even one area, it can taint activities and behaviors, especially in conversations with prospects or clients. Think of a time when one of your top performers suffered through personal problems. No doubt, he lost motivation. Momentum stalled. Outlook is like attitude: to sell successfully, you need a positive outlook.

4. Responsibility: The opposite of responsibility is excuse. Make a note of every conversation with a sales rep that doesn’t start with I. If you own responsibility, you own your mistakes and use the experience to improve. You’ll hear someone say: “I should have . . .I could have done better with . . .”

In an interview last season New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady said after losing a game: “I could have done a better job getting the ball to my receivers.” He didn’t blame them.

Sales reps who lack responsibility find excuses like “They said they didn’t have the budget.” “They said they liked us and, if they decide to buy at all, they will buy from us.” “They said our product was too expensive.” “They said the economy is bad.” Excuses.

These four factors—desire, commitment, outlook, responsibility—equal the incentive to change.

To achieve the growth you want, these four factors must be in place in your sales team.

Rockstar salespeople exude desire, commitment, positive outlook, responsibility, plus the incentive for continuous improvement. Without these attributes, the average salesperson will find it difficult to grow and go through the necessary changes required for top performance.

Five Weak Behaviors to Avoid in Sales Candidates

Equally important in your sales talent search, before you make any hiring decision, you must understand your candidates’ weaknesses.

Here are five metrics to tell you what you need to know:

1. Buy Cycle: The way you buy products or services is likely the way you expect people to buy from you. For example, do you need to think it over, comparative shop, price shop, or do research first. In fact, research tells us, a 100 percent mirror image ties the way salespeople buy to the behavior they’ll tolerate from their prospects such as stalls, put-offs and objections. The higher the candidate ranks on OMG’s buy cycle score, the less likely he will be vulnerable to those objections.

2. Approval: If a salesperson needs approval or needs to be liked, he or she will be compromised and weakened. You must profile them to determined they do not need approval. When they need to be liked or approved of, that need from the prospect may take precedence over landing a meeting or closing the sale.

When salespeople continue to follow up on long-silent prospects instead of securing a “no” early in the sales process, managers cannot forecast accuracy of the pipeline correctly. Better for salespeople to earn respect than approval.

3. Emotions: When salespeople control their emotions, they’re less likely to panic if caught by surprise during sales call. Panic leads to self-doubt, stress and worry in the middle of a sales conversation. They’ll listen to the negative tapes in their heads and not to the prospect. When your salespeople learn to manage and direct their thoughts and control feelings and emotions, their close ratios can improve by as much as 20 percent.

4. Money: When salespeople discuss money comfortably, they can dive deep into a conversation on finances to learn money sources, budget limits, and spending restrictions. Even better, they can fight for more money when shortfalls exist.

When salespeople score low in money talk in the OMG assessment, it reveals a weakness that leaves them unable to go beyond asking a simple question like, “is there a budget.” Poor responses to prospect questions such as “how much will this cost?” become normalized. I worked with a client whose sales team easily sold products and services in the $10,000 to $15,000 range; however, they struggled with big ticket sales at $150,000. They struggled with low money tolerance.

5. Record Collection: Records drive behavior. They’re a powerful but subconscious collection of self-limiting beliefs, automatically playing in the salesperson’s minds. And they predetermine actions and outcomes.

Take an example from the buy cycle. A salesperson who is a price and comparative shopper believes that although his prospect wants to think it over, he will eventually buy because he’s the same way. When asked about the sale, he will blame the no-results status on other factors like the competition. These will be the salespeople who think your products are priced too high or blame the economy for the lack of results.

When these records-in-the-mind contradict basic selling techniques, the salesperson experiences paralysis and fails to execute because of his learned behavior

The 21 Core Competencies

Can you name 10 core competencies of a great salesperson, besides prospecting, qualifying and closing? What if I give you 21 proven, field-tested competencies developed over assessing thousands of salespeople for decades; they’re measurements you can trust to guide you in your hiring practices:

21 Core Competencies of Successful Salespeople

The Will to Sell Strong Commitment to Sales Success
  Strong Desire for Sales Success
  Positive Outlook
  Takes Responsibility
Sales DNA No Need for Approval
  Supportive Buy Cycle
  Comfortable Talking about Money
  Controls Emotions
  Supportive Beliefs
  Rejection-Proof
Tactical Hunting Skills
  Posturing Skills
  Consultative Selling Skills
  Qualifying Skills
  Presentation Skills
  Closing Skills
  Relationship-Building Skills
Systems & Strategy Milestone-Centric Sales Process
  CRM Savvy
  Goal-Oriented
  Mastery of Social Selling Tools

The eternal question:

Do natural-born, rockstar salespeople exist? And where do you find them?

Or can your turn average salespeople into top performers with training and tools?

Yes to both questions.

But why not give yourself the competitive advantage of testing for the core competencies of sales success before you ever think of offering anyone a sales position?

Makes smart business sense. And consider all the time, headache, and lost opportunities you’ll spare yourself and your company by knowing what you need to know before you act.

See you on the upside,

Bill

For more information, go to www.pleinairestrategies.com
Or call William L. MacDonald in San Diego at PleinAire Strategies LLC at 760.340.4277 or 213.598.4700

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