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Commitment to Sales, and Soccer in the Snow

Posted by Dennis Connelly on Mon, Dec 16, 2013 @ 16:12 PM

CentralParkSoccer1 300 borderSomeone didn’t tell the people in this picture that there was a snowstorm and it was below freezing outside.  These men were playing a soccer game in Central Park and barely seemed to notice that it was so cold out and that the snow was coming down so hard that they should simply cancel their game and go home.  My son and I were on our way to the Frick Museum on the other side of the park when we walked passed them and took this picture.

We thought these folks were crazy, but it occurred to me that they must have known that the weather was bad.  We were quite bundled up and they were playing in it.  If I told them it was cold and snowing, it wouldn’t have been new information to them, and they probably would have just laughed.

Does that remind you of certain kinds of salespeople?  We have a finding on our sales candidate assessment that if too low, triggers a DO NOT HIRE recommendation.  About a week ago, I was asked to review just such an assessment.  The client was mystified.  This candidate had it all, they said.  He had “personality,” hunting skills, lots of excellent relationships, and he knew how to close business, but he wasn’t recommended.  How could it be?

The finding had to do with commitment.  He scored 33 out of 100.  Upon further investigation, we learned that there were issues in this person’s life that made it unlikely that they would stay in this job, no matter how good they were.  In our experience, when we have encountered this problem where candidates with low commitment, but excellent findings in other categories, were hired against the assessment recommendation, they usually left the company in under six months.

Both desire and commitment are needed as foundations for a successful career in sales.  Desire is how much you want to succeed.  Commitment is what you are willing to do to get there.  Dave Kurlan provides the clear difference in this blog post.  Imagine if your entire sales team was like the Central Park soccer players that day?  They played on Saturdays, period.  The weather didn’t matter.  They were committed to their group to be there.  They were committed to themselves to be there.  They didn’t make the obvious excuse.

When there is a “good” reason not to succeed, such as the economy is suffering, interest rates are going up, no one’s buying, or our products aren’t the best on the market, etc., those without commitment will fold.  People who are committed to their success and to the success of the company will ask, “What can I do differently to succeed in this environment?"  At some point during that day, each one of those soccer players asked, “What will I need to do to play in this weather?”  Sometimes, it’s only a matter of asking the right question. 

  • How many people on your team are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed?
  • How many are looking past the hurdles as if they are not even there?
  • How many are asking better questions of themselves and their prospects?
  • How many are using their resources to overcome unplanned obstacles?
  • How many people on your team would come out in the “snowstorm” and play full out?

The best way to find out might be to evaluate the whole team and see where improvement is needed.  If you are assessing potential new sales candidates, you can avoid the dilemma described above by assessing before you interview.  By placing only those candidates who pass the assessment into the continuing selection process, you won’t make the mistake of falling in love with a candidate who won’t succeed.  Envision your team bringing their top game to any environment and letting the worst of the unpredictable economic tundra keep them from asking how they can succeed against the odds, let alone a little snow.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessments, sales commitment, soccer, sales candidates, desire, whatever it takes

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