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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sorting The Sales Sheep, Wolves And Superstars

In August 2006 in their annual employment survey  the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development  reported that 82% of companies surveyed had difficulties in general recruiting. And noted "a lack of necessary specialist skills are cited as the key reason for recruitment difficulties (68%)".

This also applies to sales positions and as turnover in sales staff is higher than non-sales people it dramatically increases recruitment costs.

In sales they're simply hiring the wrong people...

The two key character attributes of empathy and ego for a sales superstar are also present but not balancing one another in sales sheep and sales wolves. The problem then becomes, how do you know which is which?

Companies waste their sales opportunities by using salespeople that have one, or more, of these traits:

* Poor closers
* Too aggressive
* Passive order takers
* Fear of phoning
* Can’t write to persuade
* Can’t present without being boring
* Unable to build value in the service or product
* Has poor follow-up skills
* Can’t get to top decision makers
* Finds rejection difficult to handle
* Poor time manager
* Doesn’t think strategically
* Not self-disciplined
* Doesn’t try to get market knowledge

Recruiting the right salesman can take the company to the next level.

Broadly you can break salesmen into sales sheep, sales wolves and sales super stars. Let me explain what that means to you as the business owner.

Identifying Sales Sheep

  • Wait for customer to come to them
  • Often think the customer is always right
  • Willing to lose money on an issue that the customer created themselves
  • They’ll give away stock they had "lying around"
  • Drop by to entertain and “touch base”
  • “Nearly gets a sale but doesn’t quite?”
  • Their sales closing ratio is lower than other staff
  • Entertain people at the clients who are not remotely connected to the sale process
  • Don’t follow-up and lose sales to competitors who do

Identifying Sales Wolves

  • They can’t wait to close a sale, regardless
  • Can make people buy your products and services even though they may be wrong for those customers
  • Bulldoze anything in-house that affects their sale
  • No regard to other sales staff resource needs
  • They sell lots but you get a higher returns rate
  • You get more external complaints
  • Increased internal complaints and morale drops
  • Sales lost by tying up staff other sales people need
  • Unconcerned by customer issues after a sale

Identifying Sales Superstars

These are the steps to follow when recruiting a sales superstar.

1. Advertising

Make sure your advert addresses the interest of the sales superstar - who may not even be aware that they are a superstar.

It must scare off the wolves and sheep. Although be aware the sort of advert that attracts the superstar can also attract the weird too.

2. Conduct Fast Phone Interviews

Use the interview to test the sales persons ability to respond to pressure.

The best results come from putting yourself in a disgruntled client or prospects shoes when talking to them.

Finally, you should end up with very few interview candidates.

3. The Interview

This is in 3 parts...

Part 1: Look at their childhood and explore their achievements and use the psychological profile to review who they are now.

Part 2: Check their skills by asking them to fill in a 17 point skill assessment form. Then discuss the results.

Part 3: Ignore conventional wisdom and look at CVs last.

Finally, offer superstars a job quickly otherwise someone else will snap them up. (After taking up references of course).

To help business sort the sheep and wolves from the superstars Acorn Service is providing a 17 Point Super Star Skills Assessment form to anyone who emails super at with superstars in the subject line.

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