The 3 Critical Categories for Salesperson Success

Compensation Administration
by Stephen Bruce, PhD, PHR
"In yesterday’s Advisor, consultant Charles Anderson laid out the seven most common mistakes in sales recruiting. Today, his three key criteria for evaluating sales candidates, plus an introduction to a unique state-based survey/compensation guide."

To accurately predict whether an individual will succeed in sales, you (and/or your assessment tool) need to extract information in three critical categories, says Anderson, who is president of the Selling Skills Institute, and developer of the proprietary Shift Thinking Selling Methodology.

Anderson offered his tips at a recent BLR/HRHero webinar. Here are Anderson’s three categories and some questions to help you clarify whether a candidate possesses the required skills.

1. Cognitive (Brain Function)

  • How rapidly does the individual learn new information?
  • How successfully does the individual communicate, in writing and speaking?
  • How successful is the individual at picking out important information and using to construct additional questions?

2. Behavioral

  • How energetic is the person?
  • Will he or she consistently maintain the level of productivity required to achieve sales targets?
  • How influential is the person? Is he or she able to help people discover a reason for the customer to do business with your organization?
  • How social is the person? Does he or she enjoy interacting, and can he or she build rapport quickly?
  • Can this person successfully direct his or her own activities or does this person need frequent input from managers?
  • How will this person respond to rejection or when things don’t go right? Whine and complain or shake it off and maintain a high level of productivity?
  • How strong is the person’s desire to be liked? Can this person maintain a win-win focus or will he or she give away the store?
  • How competitive is the person? How confident? How emotionally tough?
  • How determined is this person in pursuing opportunities and overcoming roadblocks?
  • Will this person follow through on commitments?
  • Can this person stay focused on the desired end result or will he or she get bogged down in details?

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3. Interest

An applicant may possess every talent required, yet if he or she doesn’t enjoy the activities involved in selling, high performance is unlikely, says Anderson.

The most basic question, says Anderson: Is this prospect a hunter or farmer? Does he or she prefer to see new customers or manage existing ones? In his experience, says Anderson, very few people have the ability to function effectively as both hunter and farmer.

  • Is the person internally (directs own activities) or externally motivated (requires frequent direction and support)?
  • How effectively will the candidate prospect? How effectively will he or she close sales? How willing to ask for the business?
  • How willing will this person be to comply with process and procedure and admin requirements? (Updating customer records, supplying sales forecasts, etc.)?
  • Will the person be a good teammate?

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