Why is Need for Achievement so Important?

In our hiring recommendations to sales managers, we stress the importance of sizing up candidates relative to all three elements of Drive: Need for Achievement, Competitiveness, and Optimism.  But, when vetting potential hunter salespeople, we place a special emphasis on testing for Need for Achievement . . . the insatiable desire to pursue excellence for its own sake.  Although hiring managers often assess a candidate’s competitive nature and resiliency, Need for Achievement is an area that can be somewhat less intuitive in the world of sales.  However, companies ignore this characteristic at their own peril . . .

The tendency to overlook Need for Achievement is a common mistake . . . managers who find a candidate who can compete and bounce back from rejection often assume they have found a winner.  To be sure, these traits are critical and essential.  However, Need for Achievement, the insatiable desire for excellence, is the engine that sustains these traits over the long haul.  A salesperson high in Need for Achievement gets up every morning with a desire to win the day, in a very entrepreneurial fashion.  Conversely, a salesperson low in Need for Achievement will not sustain the effort necessary to outperform his/her peers and exceed your expectations.  At best, he will reach a level of production that maintains his lifestyle and just level off.

So, how do world class companies determine whether their sales candidates have this psychological foundation of success?  First, they use a sales assessment test that not only measures but emphasizes Need for Achievement.  Then, they interview candidates who pass the test, asking behavioral questions such as, “Tell me about the greatest goal you have ever accomplished professionally . . . and how you plan to top it.”  Candidates high in Need for Achievement relish this question . . . it is an opportunity for them to shine and they will excitedly tell you about the next mountain they intend to climb.  Less ambitious candidates will be caught off-guard.

So, please make sure that your recruiting process, both in testing and interviewing, not only measures, but emphasizes Need for Achievement in your “hunter” 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.

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