An Inside Look at Why 3 Good Salespeople Failed and 3 So-So Salespeople Succeeded

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 09, 2020 @ 06:01 AM

failure

You hired a great salesperson that didn't work out.  You hired a so-so salesperson that did work out.  You hired another great one that kicked ass, and another one that was so-so.  That's the story of hiring salespeople.  It's mostly hit or miss with an emphasis on miss.

In this article I'm going to share an actual example that illustrates why this happens so frequently.  I'll show you tangible differences between three salespeople who succeeded and three who failed in the same role at the same company.

Most of the time when we perform these analyses the differences are usually seen inside of the 21 Sales Core Competencies - the performers are strong in the necessary competencies and the failures are not.

So let's dig into some data, shall we?

One of the ways that Objective Management Group (OMG) customizes a role configuration to recommend the ideal salespeople for a particular role is to conduct a top/bottom analysis.  We attempt to identify 15-20 scores or findings that differentiate the top salespeople from the bottom salespeople.  In small companies we use three tops and three bottoms.  In mid-size companies we use five tops and bottoms and in large companies ten tops and bottoms.

We manually analyze and compare those top and bottom salespeople against 280 scores and findings to identify those which differentiate the tops from the bottoms.  As I mentioned, the differentiations are usually found in the 21 sales core competencies or the attributes within those competencies.

Yesterday, I completed one of these analyses and the salespeople who were failing appeared to be stronger salespeople than those who were succeeding.  That's not good!  But I've learned stay with it, not give up too soon, and remember that if I'm patient enough the differences will shine through.  That's how it happened with this team but many of the differences weren't in the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  They were simpler, more basic, and more behavioral.  Check out the screen shot below and I'll recap it in beneath the image where you can see a sea of green at the top and a sea of red at the bottom.

top-bottom-Jan-2020

There were nineteen findings identified that were differentiators.  Only half came from the 21 Sales Competencies, like:

  • Sales DNA  (average of 6 Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >76
  • Supportive Buy Cycle (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >56 
  • Comfortable Discussing Money (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of 100 
  • Handles Rejection  (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >60
  • Hunting (a pure selling competency) Score of >50 
  • Account Management (a selling competency) Score of >66
  • Prospects Consistently (an attribute of the Hunter competency)
  • Gains Trust Early (an attribute of the BuildsTrust competency - not one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies)
  • Makes Decisions (an attribute of the Buy Cycle competency)
  • Will Uphold Margins (an attribute of the Buy Cycle competency)

It was more unusual to see the following findings as differentiators.  These are more behavioral and are well outside the 21 Sales Competencies.  As you read through them you can clearly see why salespeople with decent selling skills would fail when these findings appear as weaknesses:

  • Time and Organizational Skills
  • Self-Starter
  • Works independently
  • Business Minded
  • Prior experience calling on SMB's
  • Prefer to be recognized for achievements
  • Previously sold into a very competitive marketplace
  • Figure it Out Factor >61 (a compilation of 10 findings that predict a quick ramp-up)
  • Compatibility with the Role's selling requirements - score of >67

If they can't get started, organized and work on their own, in a remote selling role, the chances of success are nearly zero, regardless of skills!

The minimum required scores for success change by role, company, industry, target customer, price points, competition, difficulty, complexity, sales cycle, resistance, and more.

The three salespeople from the company above that were failing didn't have bad selling skills.  Remember, I looked at 280 findings and their selling skills were good to excellent in many of the 280 findings.  But it's not if they can sell; it's if they will sell!  The Sales DNA scores, and the non-sales skill findings combine to show us that their tops WILL sell and their bottoms only CAN sell.

When a company has a way to measure can vs. will they can hire with confidence.  It's like having a crystal ball.

Every top/bottom analysis looks different and as a result, every role configuration for sales candidate assessments is different. The findings we incorporate are different and the minimum required scores are different. Success in one role, at one company, in one industry, with various levels of difficulty, complexity, calling into certain verticals or geographies, selling with certain price points against various levels of competition and various sales cycle lengths, all serve to uniquely change the requirements for success used in the role configuration.

A sales-specific, customizable, accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment like the one that OMG provides is the crystal ball for 29,000 companies and it's why OMG was just awarded the gold medal for Top Sales Assessment by Top Sales World for the 9th consecutive year.

You can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies here.

You can checkout OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments here.

Leave your comments on the LinkedIn thread for this discussion.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, top performers, OMG Assessment

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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