Well, are you?
I'll bet you are. You can probably spot an energetic, motivated, likable, memorable, polished, polite and attractive salesperson from a handshake away. Aren't those the ones you like best? Aren't those, especially when they have industry background, the ones you hire? And don't they all perform just swell?
No? Why not? After all, they met all of your criteria, didn't they?
In baseball, they call it the 5-tool player. This is the kid who can run, field, throw, hit for average and hit for power. These kids are the can't miss prospects. They get drafted in the first round and become perennial All-Stars and Hall-of-Famers. What's that? They don't? Why not? They have all of the tools...
In the NFL, only 13 players in the Hall of Fame were selected with the first draft pick. 13!
In the NBA, only 8 players, selected with the first pick since 1991, are in the Hall of Fame.
In the MLB, only 5 players, selected in the entire first round (28 picks in the round each year) between 1965 and 1982, are in the Hall of Fame. That's 5 of 476 first round picks!
There's talent, and then there's the ability to utilize one's talent and most sports talent evaluators are no better at this than most sales managers.
In sports, coaches, GM's and player personnel directors can evaluate skills, but it's more difficult for them to evaluate a player's makeup and how that will translate to performance at the highest levels.
In sales, managers can evaluate soft skills, like the ones I listed in the first paragraph, but not strategic and tactical skills, and not sales DNA, their sales makeup, and how that will translate to performance at their company and in a specific role.
For sales, there are quality tools that can be utilized to help with sales selection. One such tool is Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment. It's simply more predictive of sales success in any number of roles and environments than any other tool or assessment.
But the assessment is only as good as the pool of candidates, and that is influenced by the job posting and where that posting is placed. Most postings are horrible and most are not placed using ideal strategies.
But even the posting is only as good as the role specification and I've never seen a sales manager or HR director get this correct on their own.
Getting selection right depends an awful lot on selection criteria and being able to identify it during a sales interview. Interviewing salespeople is completely different from interviewing candidates for any other role in a company, so it's no wonder that so few HR professionals and sales managers excel at this.
So, you can evaluate talent. You just can't predict whether that talent - their personality - will translate. Use some world-class tools to help you get the job done effectively!
Do you need to transform your sales force? My article on sales transformation appears on the Selling Power blog. See it here.