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Struggling to Hire Quota Hitting Reps?

Why High-Performing Reps Have More Than Just Skills

I had a lot of hope on Christmas morning as a kid.

I’d wake up extra early with my brother and wait for what felt like hours for my parents to get their coffee and get moving. And then we’d finally open the presents. I’d enjoy the rush of excitement, and then I’d feel disappointed when it was all over.

No doubt, the hiring experience can also be disappointing.

You can feel the rush of meeting someone in an interview who can win business and close deals. Then after your new hire meets a few obstacles, you spend the next year wondering how to transform this employee into the resilient person you met in the interview.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that much of your success hinges on hiring the right salespeople.

And in addition to hiring skilled sellers, if you want to hire more high performers, you’ll need to identify and recognize the soft skills that need to be present in your next hire.

The three most important attributes that are undervalued in the sales interview process are:
    1. Skills+ Right Attitude = Sales team of your dreams.
    2. Passion for the selling process is a key characteristic of high performers.
    3. Self-discipline is the hallmark of consistency which drives higher sales performance.

Let me lay it out for you.

1. Hiring reps who have a positive attitude will help you bring in more deals.

Unfortunately, both recruiters and sales managers tend to undervalue a positive attitude. A study by Leadership IQ looked at 20,00 new hires and concluded 89% of hiring failures are due to attitude, and technical skills account for only 11% of hiring failures.

The idea that a person’s attitude impacts performance makes sense because attitude affects how we see obstacles. And obstacles are always part of the job. Sales reps must defeat obstacles if they want to succeed.

And while technical skills and experience are undoubtedly essential, savvy employers understand that skills can be learned. 
What is more difficult to teach is the right attitude. The right attitude is not only a customer magnet but also the jump starter of perseverance and the foundation of a strong work ethic.

A positive sales leader or rep enriches everyone they encounter by bringing enthusiasm, motivation, and a can-do approach. They have a higher tolerance for frustration and serve as an example for other employees. Positive candidates are more likely to be productive, cooperative, and successful.

A positive, “can-do” attitude is an excellent asset to a software company and will help create a positive and inspiring work environment.

And you know what else?

2. Making offers to salespeople who are passionate about the job gives you a better chance of hitting quotas.

Here’s the story. The “p-word” is overused.

But it’s a great word because it encompasses many qualities necessary for sales success. Passion brings enthusiasm, belief in what one is doing, a conviction that can’t be faked, and the commitment to succeed. These are the qualities of great salespeople.

Plus, a study published in Educational Psychology concluded people tend to like things they are good at. So, identifying salespeople who LOVE sales is another clue they are good at the job.

Not long ago, I met a sales rep who was so passionate about a product that I was convinced to purchase his SaaS solution quickly.

And for sure, the product was excellent. But I can tell you, if he hadn’t been so convinced about what he was selling and its ability to solve my problems, I would have stalled out in the sales process.

And a procrastinated decision means I’m never making that decision because, well, I can’t decide! So I wind up in this place where I’m not saying yes, but I’m also not saying no…exactly.

But this rep had a passion for what he was selling.

And he would not be deterred by my “maybe” ways. He knew this was the right product for me and pushed me to stay connected with him through the “thinking” phase of the decision.

It’s 100% certain his company does not know, but I do.

That 10K ARR deal would not have closed with a “Buy Now” button on the website. Nor would it have closed with a less “passionate” rep who might have said, “No problem, I’ll follow up with you next week.” Nor would it have closed with a rep who let their limiting beliefs tell them my company is -too small, too cheap, too this or that- to afford his 10K ARR solution.

Know this: I NEEDED to be kicked over the edge, and I admired his tenacity and passion for seeing it through to closure.

Now here’s another important point.

3. Vetting for self-discipline means you’ll hire people willing to pay the price and not expect shortcuts to determine their success.

In the last 100 years, we’ve all enjoyed our fair share of easy buttons.

For the first time, in 1953, we could wash and dry our clothes in our homes. A few years later, in 1955, we could wash and dry our clothes while we heated dinner in the microwave—all at the same time! And by 1998, we could call anywhere in the US for pennies, and we said goodbye to huge long-distance phone bills.

Yet, the easy button hasn’t materialized in some areas of our life.

But it seems almost natural to expect it should because it HAS “appeared” in many areas of our modern lives. So let’s face it: it seems like a shortcut might exist. 

And here are a few sales shortcuts most of us have tried in the name of efficiency and “easier”: email blasts, autoresponders, marketing automation, parallel-dialing, voice-mail drops, templates, bots, etc.

All these advances create an expectation that winning new clients should be easier, faster, and take less work than it does.

But every new or experienced salesperson knows what they need to do to win more clients. Moreover, they understand no matter how experienced they are, their success is determined by their ability to get in front of more potential buyers.

And there certainly are “new” ways to do that.

But at the end of the day, sales success requires a hefty heaping daily dose of failure. 

Because every rep will have to face down many nos to get to a yes, it requires a lot of pipeline building. And self-discipline separates those who will from those who won’t do the consistent prospecting needed for ultimate success.

Because no matter how good at “closing” you are, there is nothing to close without an opening.

I’ll tell you…high performers do call more people.

And they call with greater quality than an average rep because they have made more calls. They prospect daily and consistently. They own responsibility for their quota and don’t rely solely on SDRs to bring them leads.

Prospecting requires loads of self-discipline.

And those who can make themselves do the prospecting work will build a bigger funnel and have more chances of success than those who are equally skilled but refuse to do the work.

Self-disciple is mandatory because there is no magic in sales.

Successful salespeople are not only skilled at doing the work; they are skilled at making themselves DO the most challenging parts of the job.

They have the self-discipline to execute the daily fundamentals.

What, you ask…?

You can’t find skilled talent, let alone motivated talent? Won’t your “engagement app” fix motivational issues?

Attracting skilled talent is not easy whether you’re facing a hot or cold labor market. High-performing salespeople are always working, and they get discovered reasonably fast. They stand out.

And you know what else?

It’s not even tough for them to find a new job. But they are worth competing for because no matter how skilled a rep is, you can’t motivate the unmotivated. Your engagement app isn’t going to transform an underperformer into an elite sales superstar.

Find out if your next applicant has the soft skills you need by reviewing results, probing for obstacles, and checking references.

Because hiring salespeople with skills and the right mindset leads to exponential growth.

Oracle is one of the largest global software companies in the world.

And they have done a fantastic job of riding the rocky storms tech companies must face if they want to grow. In my book, Oracle is one of the best large software companies out there—because they embrace the idea of hiring for attitude. Amanda Yew, a Product Sales Manager at Oracle, said, “A positive attitude and the hunger to learn is enough to take you places you never thought you’d reach.”

Oracle’s NetSuite division makes a point of hiring BDRs and promoting them to other sales roles.

Some key things they look for in a strong candidate are, “We want intelligent, motivated, and competitive people with a “get the job done” mindset.”

An industrial psychologist Alan Davidson who has Fortune 1000 clients across various industries, says, “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Your personality is going to be essentially the same throughout your life.”

His evidence for this conclusion is from research done by the US military starting in the 1950s.

Hiring for more than experience and skills is critical if you’re after a high performer.

***Recruit people who have a positive attitude. Everyone will face obstacles, and sales reps with a positive attitude will find ways to overcome challenges. And you know what else? They don’t require “perfect” environments for high performance.

***High performers have a passion for what they are doing. For example, if you find someone who loves sales, they are likelier to be a high performer. They will also be more likely to persuade and transform on-the-fence prospects into customers.

***Reps with solid levels of self-discipline can be some of the highest performers you will hire. The reason is they can make themselves do what needs to be done whether they feel like it or not. High self-discipline is the underpinning of consistent behavior and the ability to execute even on “off-days.” And consistent executors will surpass reps who make Herculean efforts in the last few weeks of the quarter.

Gifts are Great, but They Aren’t Joy and Happiness.

In childhood, I didn’t realize that Christmas isn’t about getting presents. And I certainly confused gifts for the joy and meaning of the season.

Don’t confuse hard skills as the primary signal you’ve identified a money-making rep. Otherwise, you’ll think you’re getting joy and happiness, but all you have is a present.

If you’re ready to expand your sales talent pool, let’s talk. 

Connect with us if you want more information on how we might partner to expand your sales talent pool.