3 Rules for Hiring Truly Driven Salespeople

Kevin Gaither, sales hiring expert

Kevin Gaither

How often do you hire sales reps who don’t live up to expectations?

A typical sales leader gets hiring right about 50 percent of the time. So, only 1 out of 2 reps you hire will turn out to be good.

You can actually place a dollar amount on your mistakes. It probably falls somewhere between $1.3 million and $2.6 million, if you manage an average-size team of 14 salespeople.

Obviously, that’s not a pretty number. The good news, though, is that you can dramatically improve on that number by hiring truly driven salespeople.

Sounds simple, right? Everybody tries to hire sales reps with drive. But how do you define and evaluate drive?

Dr. Christopher Croner, author of “Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again,” has found some answers to this tricky question.

The three crucial components of drive are:

1. Need for achievement

2. Competitiveness

3. Optimism

Let’s take a look at each one of these traits and some questions you can use to assess them.

1. Need for achievement

Need for achievement is the burning desire to achieve high goals, and it requires a strong work ethic. Somebody who has high need for achievement is somebody who makes sacrifices in favor of career success.

Sales reps who have a high need for achievement set huge goals for themselves in their personal and professional lives. And they have plans to top those goals.

Here are some questions you can use to gauge a candidate’s need for achievement:

  • What kind of sacrifices have you had to make to be successful in your career?

  • Tell me about a few times where you exceeded expectations or went beyond the call of duty.

2. Competitiveness

Competitive people want to win. They hate to lose. They view many situations in their lives as competitive situations. They could be running on the treadmill. They could be driving in Friday traffic. They could be competing with fellow salespeople.

WARNING: Athletes are not necessarily competitive. And people who are competitive are not necessarily athletes. Ask good questions and look for recent stories.

Here are some questions you can use to gauge a candidate’s competitiveness:

  • When was the last time you were competitive?

  • Tell me about the most recent competitive situation you had at work.

  • How would your manager rank your competitiveness compared with your peers?

  • What makes your manager see you as competitive?

3. Optimism

Optimistic people have a shameless disregard for reality. They blow off rejection, move on to the next challenge and find a way to achieve. Bada boom, bada bing!

You want sales reps who are in it for the long haul. Can they handle rejection day after day and just keep plowing through it and closing deals?

Here are some questions you can use to gauge a candidate’s optimism:

  • Think back to the last time you lost a deal. What did you do to recover from that?

  • The last time a prospect told you that you had lost the sale to a competitor, what did you do next? Where did you go? Who did you talk to? How did you react?

  • Tell me about a time when you got a result even though it upset somebody.

Get more free hiring tips

View my full presentation on hiring truly driven salespeople from the Inside Sales Virtual Summit in the video below.

FREE OFFER: Tweet at @kevinsgaither and ask for my Inside Sales Sample Benchmark. It identifies 20 characteristics you want to look for when hiring sales reps. I define each of those characteristics, and it has nearly 80 sample questions you can use today to improve your hiring success.

Kevin Gaither is a recognized inside sales expert and hands-on senior sales executive with an 18+ year track record of growing early-stage and multimillion-dollar businesses. He has proven success in attracting, retaining and leading top-performing sales teams focused on accelerating revenue growth.

Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn and Google+.

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