When should you pay attention to how committed an individual is to sales success?
Clients tend to believe that as long as they're getting results from a salesperson, lack of commitment is not a problem.
Clients tend to believe that when they're not getting results from a salesperson, lack of commitment explains everything.
Clients who recruit backwards (interview, then assess) tend to fall in love with candidates, then learn about their lack of commitment and attempt to justify the redeeming features of the candidate and discount the commitment problem.
Clients who recruit forward (assess, then interview) tend to ignore candidates who lack commitment - they don't even speak with them.
While commitment is a single data point - not the be-all-end-all - it's a very powerful and predictive data point as well.
If you are a client, upon learning that a top producer lacks commitment you might be asking, "How can that be?"
Top performers didn't lack commitment when they were top performers. While their noteworthy performance may have been recent (last year), their lack of commitment is probably brand new (last month). So while clients may fight this finding, they have to understand the predictive nature of the finding too. It isn't showing up in the results yet and won't show up for some months to come. If your company has a 6-9 month sales cycle the results are still 6-9 months away. I'm penning this on June 2, 2010, and the results in a medium to long sales cycle won't be known until at least January of 2011. So of course the client doesn't see it - yet.
What does lack of commitment look like anyway? It's different for every salesperson but it has nothing to do with work ethic! Plenty of salespeople have a great work ethic despite their lack of commitment. It's the subtle things that commitment interferes with; The extra attempt to turn a prospect around; The additional attempt to reach a prospect that hasn't responded; The one additional question that might turn a so-so opportunity into a great opportunity. Aren't those skills? Sure they are. But when the salesperson has the skills but doesn't use them consistently, it can be attributed to commitment. Only when they lack the skills can you attribute the problem to lack of skills.