If you’re in the position of hiring salespeople, you’re probably tempted to hire the most outgoing, talkative candidates. But it’s actually the somewhat less outgoing personality types that make better salespeople.
For many years as a sales manager, I would only hire the stereotypical sales representative. You know the type — on a human relations continuum or scale of zero to ten, with the ten representing a candidate who is totally gregarious and outgoing, and the zero, someone who is introverted with few people skills, I’d always recruit the ten. As an advisor to businesses and professional service firms on how to build an effective sales team, I would also council my clients to hire “tens.” Big mistake!
The 80/20 Rule
Pareto’s principle (the 80/20 Rule) is vividly illustrated in most industries by the fact that 80 percent of the sales are closed by only 20 percent of the sales professionals. After 24 years of working with literally thousands of sales representatives and service industry professionals as an advisor, trainer, and coach, I have learned an important truth — that the ten personality is rarely found in the ranks of the top 20 percent of the sales professionals who produce 80 percent of the sales. For this reason alone, I now hire candidates that fall at about a six on the personality continuum, and I council my clients to do the same.
Better Listeners and Communicators
Why hire a six? Because the six personality makes up the vast majority of today’s top sales producers. And they’re successful at selling, simply because they have a six personality. They’re a bit reserved and a lot less outgoing than the ten, but they still have the people skills to communicate well. They do less talking than a ten and they listen better, giving them a decided edge in communicating effectively.
Attention to Detail
Although six personalities have less charisma than a ten, they have a much greater ability to deal with the details of the selling process. This helps them to consistently find new prospects and to organize their day to get more done than an eight or ten personality. Their ability to produce leads, the effective use of time and their systematic approach to presentations, gives the six personality a selling edge. Most sales professionals with a ten personality absolutely loath prospecting, paperwork, and organizing themselves, so they simply rely on their personality and charm to achieve their sales objectives.
Finding the Best Candidates
You have to hire smart to develop a sales team that are all “top producers.” You don’t have to live with an 80/20 rule sales team, if you truly understand the personality of the sales or service industry professionals who make up the 20 percent and then only hire candidates that fall into this demographic.
However, there’s one problem with this suggestion. You rarely can find a candidate in the top 20 percent who is actively looking for new employment. And, a company or firm would be crazy to let their top producers leave them. Most employers usually do everything in their power to retain their best performers.
Your only recourse, then, is to hire someone from the 80 percent grouping with potential to be a top producer. And how to do this must be the topic for another article
Best wishes for continued sales success.
Virden Thornton is the founder and President of The $elling Edge®, Inc., a firm specializing in sales, customer relations, and management training and development.