Better sales staff equals more sales. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Increasing the productivity of your sales people, however, is a complex task fraught with misunderstanding.

Finding high performing staff involves a specific hiring approach which targets those with precisely the right attributes for the job in hand.

Once you have the right players, it doesn’t stop there. It’s a question of matching them to the right sales roles, managing them and developing the sales team in an ongoing way to ensure maximum efficiency.

Remember the old maxim ‘If you can sell, you can sell anything’?

Well, times have changed. Not all sales jobs – or reps – are created equal.

According to studies analysed by Herb Greenberg, Harold Weinstein and Patrick Sweeney in their book How to Hire and Develop your Next Top Performer, around 50% of those working in sales lack the fundamental traits necessary in effective sales people. A further 25% are selling the wrong thing, for the wrong managers, in the wrong place.

That leaves just 25% of sales people operating to full capacity and producing great results.

So one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to finding the right sales person to sell your product or services.

Financial benefits of hiring the best people

Having a sales team composed of star performers can make a significant difference to your bottom line.

In a study of 100 businesses, Sales Force of Top Producers – A Manager’s (and Owner’s) Dream, reported in Employer’s Advantage, the company’s top performer outsold the bottom performer by a whopping average of 5.7 to 1 – with a range of 3:1 to 9:1.

Just imagine what kind of results you’d get if your entire team worked at the lower margin of 3:1, not to mention 5:1 or above.

Salesforce and the TAS Group drew some more shocking statistics from their own research. These include:

  • Two-thirds of sales people miss their quota.
  • More than half of all sales people close less than 40% of potential deals.
  • Top performing sales reps are 250% better at qualifying leads.
  • High performers are 2.5 times more likely to be effective qualifiers than the general population.
  • Around 40% of sales people don’t understand their customer’s ‘pain’, addressing problems they don’t even have.
  • Revenue can be up to 25% greater at companies where sales and marketing are well integrated.
  • High performers are 57% more likely to come from companies where sales and marketing work in harmony.

Measuring individual productivity

All this begs the question, just how productive is your own sales team? Can you measure individual productivity? And once you’ve measured it, how do you replace or improve poor and mediocre performers?

A range of smart assessment tools is now available to figure out how efficient and profitable your sales people really are.

These tools also help you determine which staff have the potential to improve – and which need to be replaced with new blood.

How to hire the best people

The right assessment tools can help you find the right people for your sales jobs.

Applied correctly, assessments that can measure “JobFit” can reduce sales department turnover by up to 47%, as well as making your recruitment of future high performers up to three times as successful!

Which should be music to any employer’s ear when considering the statistics.

Figures from Performance Resources and Profiles International, as reported in Employer’s Advantage, show that three out of four new sales employees don’t last the distance. They have, in fact, only a 25% chance of staying with the company for a full year.

Of those that do stick, only one in 10 go on to become a genuine top performer within three years.

So what is the essential DNA of these star performers? Many have fundamental traits and attributes in common which help drive their peak performance.

Assessments that measure JobFit can extract and compile these traits into a high performance role benchmark which becomes the real, customised measure of employee success in your business.

It can be used to great effect when recruiting new sales staff, ensuring that candidates fit these rigorous criteria and carry the ‘work genes’ critical to success in their roles.

What to look for in sales job candidates

There are plenty of things to consider when hiring, but it’s vital that new employees are a good fit with company culture and embrace their new work environment.

They must be able to cope with challenges, build great relationships with work colleagues – especially in the marketing department – and understand the needs of your customers.

So what attributes do star sales performers typically have?

  • Real energy and stamina.
  • Assertiveness when clinching a sale yet flexibility when accommodating clients.
  • Ability to think creatively and problem-solve on the hop.
  • A relaxed, welcoming personal manner.
  • Innate ability to know when and how far to bend the rules.

The right recruitment tools help you weed out unsuitable candidates and identify the cream of the crop.

Other benefits of hiring great sales performers

Financial benefits are not the only advantages of building a high performing sales team.

You end up with staff who love working together, foster innovation and all contribute to boosting and maintaining morale.

Which makes your biggest problem who to choose – out of all those prime contenders – for that prize promotion.


David Leahy

Directions Unlimited

We supply state of the art JobFit assessments and Development solutions to help you attract, select, on board, manage, develop, and engage top performers

About David Leahy

David Leahy is the Director of Directions Unlimited, a specialist consultancy providing people solutions of every shape and size – from JobFit assessment testing, behavioural interviews and outstanding managerial tools to executive one-to-one coaching, team and group coaching programs. David “gets” business having worked for more than 30 years with multinationals and SMEs. An accredited organisational coach, he possesses a broad coaching experience having coached at CEO and Senior Executive level in the USA, South America, Europe and Australia.




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