Super sales performance – who do you need?

When hiring, managers will look for core experience essential to fulfil a role and evidence of the desired skills and qualities which will make an individual a good match for their organisation. Without this a hiring manager will effectively be shooting in the dark hoping they hire a high calibre candidate. When recruiting for super sales performance the list of must-have, should-have and could-have attributes can be as varied as the classifications in the Paralympics. But just as in the Paralympics, individuals with the right mix of ability, drive and focus (and perhaps that extra bit of luck) will ultimately get the job and perform well.

Here is a brief guide to some of the characters you might find when trying to recruit a top notch salesperson:

The hand-grenade sniper
Targets are a number to be obliterated in any way possible. Sales and/or business development is always hit hard, in volume but not necessarily in quality. There’s always successes but have they been fully exploited and what collateral damage has taken place in the process.

Dobby the elf
Targets focussed on quality of delivery are key. Key accounts are always carefully and fully looked after, but new clients may never be found as a result (and that sock may never be claimed…).

100metre specialist
The kind of 10 second sprint to the finish you’ve been looking for… Targets are seen as a great way to focus activity in the last few hours before a deadline. They hope they’ll manage to make it, but succeeding or failing is all about that last few seconds. They may be inconsistent and lack clarity in realistic prospects.

The vending machine
These sales units make it obvious what they can deliver, and they more often than not do just that…. But rarely exceed your expectations. Their solid attitude and ability offers reliable sales delivery, making them a consistent performer who will never be the best and will rarely over-deliver.

‘Old faithful’
Just like that old geyser in Yellowstone, this individual delivers like clockwork from known reservoirs of work. They optimise pipeline from the same clients without fail, but with very few new streams opening up or feeding in. What will happen when these clients finally dry up?

The wilful contextualist (‘yes but’ man)
Targets are never perfect, and this sales person knows it. Context is key and targets can always be rationalised when missed. Without specificity and clarity from the start, sales and/or business development targets might be hit, but if they’re not it is always due to external factors.

The Messiah
These individuals suffer for the good of their team, absorbing poor performance and others’ targets and delivering enough work to quietly cover for weaker individuals. This overachiever makes no song or dance about themselves and appears as any other, but ultimately you’ll realise that they’re clouding your vision of weaker individuals who could benefit from more effective and direct intervention. You may be left failing to reward these stronger individuals sufficiently to ultimately keep them.

Bugsy
Targets aren’t to be reached they’re to be exceeded. This individual delivers solid sales and/or business development activity but potentially misses out on innovation at the expense of getting that carrot. Focus and drive definitely aren’t an issue here.

Depending on the team, any or all of these characters might optimise their activity. A good mix of characters may be preferable in achieving super sales performance and an overabundance of hand-grenade snipers or ‘Old Faithful’s may be detrimental to your business. Is there a character missing? Is there a ‘Mr/s Perfect Sales’ out there? Either way, identifying these characteristics might help you build teams of salespeople who gel together and deliver the kind of sales and business development that you want.

Do you consider a candidate’s approach to targets during your standard interview processes? How important do you feel having the right mix of characters is to building strength and growth within your sales teams?

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