New Data Shows an Overlooked Finding Correlates to Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 15, 2020 @ 09:10 AM

compatibility

We use remote deposit, a terrific convenience for depositing checks from the desktop without going to the bank.  The only problem is that the software that runs the check scanner isn't compatible with the Mac OS.  It only runs on Windows so we have to remotely connect to an old Dell that takes up unnecessary space. Oh, if only the software for the check scanner was compatible with the Mac.

My wife and I were friends with a couple that argued ALL the time. They argued when they were alone, they argued when they were with us, they argued when they were with their kids and they were just brutal to each other.  If only they were more compatible.

Compatibility is not only important, it could be one of the most overlooked criteria in hiring sales candidates.  Let's do a deep dive! 

Most sales leaders think that industry experience is the most important criteria for evaluating the fit of a potential sales hire but they couldn't be more wrong.  Compatibility with the selling environment is far more important.  For example, if you sell payroll services, is it more important that the sales candidate came from the payroll industry or is it more important that they have great selling skills and called on the same HR professionals that a payroll salesperson would need to call on?  In other words, is it more important that they know stuff, or is it more important that they have a built-in network of customers to sell to? 

There's more to compatibility than who they sell to.  Factors like the length of the sales cycle, how many calls/meetings that entails, your price point relative to the competition, the amount of money they'll be asking for, the quality of the competitor's offering, the effectiveness of the competition's marketing and sales, whether they've worked for a sales manager with a similar management style, how much pressure they'll be under, whether they'll get the coaching and training they require, if they've worked under a similar compensation plan, and more should be considered.  There are nearly 30 variables that help to determine whether a salesperson is compatible for the role. 

At my weekly meeting with Objective Management Group's (OMG) COO, John Pattison, we discussed compatibility in the context of another finding we call FIOF or "Figure it Out Factor."  Candidates that have a FIOF score of 75 or better ramp up more quickly than other candidates.  Compatibility is weighted pretty heavily in the FIOF finding because of how it influences the ramp-up time of new salespeople.  The more compatible a salesperson is with your selling environment, the more quickly they should ramp up because they've "done this before."

OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as 9 other competencies that are important but not core.  An additional finding is a score for compatibility.  

Out of curiosity, we wondered what the average score for compatibility was because we haven't looked at that before.  He asked me to guess and I said "somewhere between 60 and 80."  It turns out that the average compatibility score for all sales candidates is 70.  Not bad!  For kicks, we ran the analysis for the four levels of Sales Percentile which include Elite (top 5%), Strong (the next 15%), Serviceable (the next 30%), and Weak (everyone else - the bottom 50%).  This is what the analysis showed:

Who knew that compatibility would correlate to Sales Percentile? I certainly didn't think that the distribution of scores would show this kind of correlation.  After all, when we score compatibility, we aren't measuring any of the sales competencies that make up Sales Percentile; only prior selling environments. The top 5% of all salespeople are 41% more compatible with their selling roles than the bottom 50% and it left me wondering, "Why?"

Three theories came to mind and perhaps you can add some additional theories!

Theory 1: The best salespeople naturally identify good fits for themselves so that they can thrive.  We could guess that elite salespeople seek out the greatest selling challenges - something beyond their comfort zone - but perhaps they are simply too smart to sabotage themselves.

Theory 2: The worst salespeople don't pay any attention to fit because to them, selling is just spouting off features and benefits, doing demos, generating quotes and proposals, and taking orders.  Maybe they simply gravitate to wherever they are wanted?

Theory 3: The best sales leaders, in hiring only the best salespeople, are rewarded with salespeople that can handle their selling environment. It's worth noting that the best sales leaders hire salespeople who are more talented than they are while average and weak sales leaders hire salespeople who are weaker than they are.

I haven't written about compatibility before but it's worth spending a few minutes to understand the role it plays in sales success.

What plays an even more important role in sales success than compatibility?  It's the 21 Sales Core Competencies and configuring OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment to recommend those candidates that score well in the competencies that are crucial to success in the role you are hiring for.  Learn more about the 21 Sales Core Competencies.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, HR, human resources, sales performance, Personality Tests, sales selection, sales assessments, sales test

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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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