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Should I Clone My Top Performing Salesperson?

Thursday, September 5th, 2013 by

Sales managers often wonder if they should attempt to use testing to clone their top performing salespeople.  This can be a very tempting proposition . . . who would not want an entire team that performs just like the top producer?  However before we apply testing for this purpose, we need to keep a few critical caveats in mind . . . 

First, the top performing salesperson on any team is just that . . . the top producer relative to the rest of the team.  However, when compared to the entire universe of high-performing salespeople, that individual may not be as close to the top of the list.  Secondly, several variables may have contributed to the top producer’s standing . . . for example, that individual may be spending most of his time mining an existing book of business which he built much earlier in his career . . . he may not have the degree of intensity you would need in a new recruit with a blank Rolodex.  Additionally, the top producer may be supported by more aggressive cold callers/door openers, allowing him to be a strong closer (not a bad thing at all, but not quite the same as developing new accounts from scratch).  Finally, the brand/marketing may be doing much of the selling, resulting in lots of RFP’s . . . the top producer may be great at responding to them, but, again, is not engaging in personal groundbreaking efforts.

All of these caveats are important to consider before a sales manager tests his or her top performer for the three elements of Drive (Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism).  Often, managers are tempted to take this person’s overall score and simply look for candidates who meet or exceed that score.  However, for the reasons above, it is not unusual for current, high performers to record low to average Drive results, which could potentially set the benchmark too low for recruiting purposes.  Therefore, although sales managers are free to test and review the scores of their top performers, they need to carefully consider the limitations of using these scores for hiring benchmarks.  Starting fresh by hiring candidates who score high on a sales test and perform well in the interview is often a more effective approach for managers aiming to substantially raise the bar for themselves and their team.

Click here to learn more about our sales test . . . the DriveTest . . . for measuring the three elements of Drive in your sales candidates.

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.


One thought on “Should I Clone My Top Performing Salesperson?”

  1. Bruce Schwaegel says:

    I would like to start by saying that I completely agree with the sales drive philosophy. However, there are many other factors that may be contributing to someone’s sales success as well. Examples include geographic density, willingness to adapt new technology, chosen architectures (telephony hardware example), as well as budget constraints. I recently had a sales representative who sold telecom broadband products. He consistently outperformed the rest of the team purely from a sales revenue standpoint even though he was lacking in two of the three measures that you define as drive. His customer had chosen a deployment architecture that required the use of our products in 100% of the carrier’s locations while another large carrier had chosen an architecture that only required the use of our product 15% of the time. The two carrier’s ability to spend on our products was vastly different as well as the second carrier, while having a similar budget, allocated most of it to another area of their business. As a result, the rep with the lowest sales drive had the highest revenue but did little to position us in other product areas.

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