What Drives The Best Sales People? Traits or Sales Skills?

Many business owners and sales managers scratch their heads, wondering why a salesperson, who interviewed great, does not perform well over time. So, upon reflecting on this question, I began to research both the traits and the sales skills of the top sales professionals. My research led me to contact one of the nation’s top experts in sales aptitude testing to find the answer. Recently we sat down and discussed the topic. According to Dr. Christopher Croner of SalesDrive, “although factors such as management style, training, compensation, and cultural fit are important, an individual’s drive is the number one non-teachable determinant of success for account acquisition or “hunter” salespeople.”

Since drive is a critical determinant of whether a sales candidate will be successful, much of our conversation revolved around what drive is and how you can tell if candidates have it. There are three main personality traits that are the components of drive.

The first and most important trait is the need for achievement. Dr. Croner describes the need for achievement in this way “They are motivated by a need to achieve outstanding results, and they are willing to work as hard as necessary to succeed.” Salespeople with drive are never satisfied and are always looking to sell more products and make more money, but more importantly they do it for personal pride. These salespeople have a good type of dissatisfaction, one that creates an internal fire that never goes out. This internal fire gets them out of bed every day with a passion to achieve more.

The second trait or component of drive is competitiveness. These are people who love to compete no matter what. They want to win against other people and they want to better themselves. Dr. Croner describes competitive salespeople in this way “Driven salespeople are hardwired to be number one. Like a thoroughbred racehorse, they are always eyeing their peers, always comparing their performance to others. They are out to win. They are born to win.” You probably know a salesperson who is always keeping score. These top performers make every aspect of their job a competition which makes them work harder than their co-workers. I once had a chance to speak with one of Michael Jordan’s teammates about whether he thought LeBron James would ever be as good as MJ. Without hesitation he said “No chance, most people don’t know that Michael hated to lose at anything. He played every scrimmage as if it was game 7 of the finals, no matter what he was going to win.” That conversation happened before LeBron finally won an NBA Championship, but he still has a long way to go to reach the heights of MJ. It is just a great example to paint the picture of someone who loves to compete or should I say hates to lose.

The third and final building block for drive is optimism. Think about optimism as the glue that holds it all together. Though an individual has a need to achieve and loves to compete, some people still fail because they lack optimism, and let fear of failure control their life. So you want to be sure candidates have this trait as well. Dr. Croner says “Optimists expect to win and are thick-skinned. Their positive thoughts are like a self-fulfilling prophecy of success” “They don’t take rejection personally and put rejection in its proper perspective.” You can see why this third trait is another important building block to drive.

Since drive is such an important factor when it comes to sales performance, I have included a handful of interview questions from his book to help you identify drive in the interview process. These questions will improve the chances of receiving answers specific to the candidates drive. These are just a teaser, so if you want the full list you will need to get Dr. Croner’s book.

• What kinds of sacrifices have you made to be successful?
• What is the toughest goal you ever set for yourself?
• Tell me about the most competitive situation you have ever been in at work. How unusual was it for you?
• Think about the last time you lost a deal. What did you do to recover?
• What do you feel driven to prove?

Getting back to the original question of this article, are traits or sales skills what make someone a top performer? After my research, I feel it is safe to say that the foundations of a top sales person are the traits that make up drive. Since they have a need to achieve, it leads them to hone their sales skills. You can make a direct correlation that sales people with drive will work harder to develop the best sales skills.

Anyone wanting to learn more about the importance of drive in sales professionals should order a copy of Dr. Christopher Croner’s book “Never Hire A Bad Salesperson Again: Selecting Candidates Who Are Absolutely Driven To Succeed” on Amazon. The book gives many tips on how to determine if a candidate has drive. You can also learn more about Dr. Croner and his services by visiting his website www.salesdrive.info .

What other traits have you found to be important when it comes to sales success? Please share your comments below.

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David Domos developed WhyBuyFromYou.com to provide content to help small businesses develop their branding, marketing and sales systems. In the past he held key leadership positions for a fortune 500 company. That company led the market in both sales and brand awareness and David was a significant contributor to its growth. David has been on the Amazon.com best seller list in their Direct Marketing, Communications and Entrepreneurship categories. He is a student of sales, marketing, branding & small business growth, continually focusing on the reason people buy. Follow him on Twitter @WhyBuyFromYou or visit www.whybuyfromyou.com.

Posted in Hunter Sales People, Sales Skills, Sales Traits
One comment on “What Drives The Best Sales People? Traits or Sales Skills?
  1. Bill Hubert says:

    This is going to be very useful for me thank you very much for posting

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