Welcome to a non-election year! Isn’t it nice? While last year is still fresh in our minds, I’d like to call your attention to that political noise once again. Emory University did a study of partisan-political thought proving that we are not easily knocked out of our belief systems. No surprise there. More interesting about the findings is that once we believe something, our bias can run so deep that we’re unaware of our logical mind often disengaging when contradictory evidence is presented to us. They could actually see this in brain scans. Don’t we see this whenever we try to convince someone who just doesn’t seem to want to get it? And how often are we that very person?
We get so much satisfaction, and as the study revealed, even pleasure from what supports our beliefs that we’ll actually construct evidence if necessary. Our emotions overwhelm our ability to think rationally. On the brain scans, the reasoning area of the brain goes dark in these circumstances.
Okay, here’s another one. When we are distracted, it’s hard to stay focused. Again, no surprise. But see if you can pass this selective attention test. Go to this site and click on the arrow to start the video. Do not read below as you will see the answer. Read the question and see if you can do it. It’s a lot harder than you think. Millions have already tried this and perhaps you are one of them. But if not, you might be surprised at how difficult it is. Some of you might follow the action well enough to get the right answer, but you would be among the very few.
So if I told you that there is no such thing as a sales personality, how would you change your thinking about salespeople? If I told you that your social impression doesn’t count for much when selecting a sales candidate, how would that change how you hire? After administering over 800,000 individual sales assessments that includes over 140 million data points, Objective Management Group concludes beyond any doubt that this is true. It’s worth noting that this OMG test has won the Top Sales award for assessment tools for the fourth year in a row beating out nine other finalists (if that helps convince you).
So what does count? Following decades of groundwork laid by Dave Kurlan, here is my Top 10 list in no particular order:
- Desire for success in sales (not just success)
- Commitment to do what it takes to succeed in sales
- A positive outlook
- Doesn’t make excuses
- Not too many hidden weaknesses
- An ability to prospect
- The skills to close a sale
- Account management and farming skills
- Trainability and Coachability
- Prior success selling in a similar selling environment in which you operate
What’s not on this list? Drumroll, please. Here is my Bottom 10 list:
- A firm handshake
- A warm smile
- The gift of gab
- Great looks
- Perfect diction
- Ready with a good joke
- Has all the right answers
- A great resume
- Excellent references
Gosh, “excellent references” is on the Bottom 10 list? Yup. A poor reference would be valuable information. An excellent reference isn’t very useful. It’s rigged after all, isn’t it? Many items on this second list might seem like nice things to have, but they won’t predict success selling at your company. The right combination of the Top 10 list, plus a few other dimensions, can make that prediction with very good accuracy. To find out whether your candidate possesses these attributes, one must gather over 150 data points. How many skills comprise the Closer Skill Set, for example? Try this sample assessment on one of your candidates.
Are you using the right selection criteria to hire your salespeople? Are you expert at interviewing sales candidates? Do you attract the best candidates? Do you cast your net wide enough to ensure the best candidates are in the pool? Can you change your beliefs when presented with facts and data? When focused on one set of attributes, can you shift your attention and notice what’s even more important? Like in partisan politics, we often believe what we want to believe about someone, such as a sales candidate, and overlook what really matters. Are you able to transcend the lens of your beliefs and see the truth?