We have written extensively on the critical nature of Drive for success in new account acquisition. Sales is the ultimate arena demanding dedication to excellence and persistence in the face of rejection. Similarly, in a fascinating recent TED talk, Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania discussed her findings on a trait she calls “Grit” (a combination of Need for Achievement and Optimism in our parlance) in children. The early results of Dr. Duckworth’s research have important implications for us as hiring managers . . .
Dr. Duckworth defines Grit as a combination of hard work and perseverance. Gritty individuals set substantial goals and persevere toward them, despite the inevitable challenges along the way. One of Dr. Duckworth’s most interesting findings is that grit and natural talent are either unrelated or slightly negatively correlated. She speculates that naturally very talented individuals may not have as many chances to respond to challenges or difficulties. However, gritty individuals will push themselves through the hard times, remaining focused on the bigger picture.
When sales managers tell us they are looking for sales candidates who were great athletes or politicians in school, we encourage them to find out exactly what led to the candidate’s previous success. For example, was the candidate simply a naturally talented athlete with a coach that pushed them and got them up every morning to practice? Or was the candidate consistently on the field at 6 AM before the other players, focused on conditioning and repetition to take their performance to the next level? That kind of grit-fueled determination (with high Competitiveness of course) becomes the psychological foundation of success in the demanding but highly rewarding world of sales.
Dr. Christopher Croner and Richard Abraham are authors of Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again and developers of the proprietary and patented sales test, The DriveTest™, for sales candidates. For more information, click here.