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Can You Train a Low-Drive Salesperson to “Hunt” Successfully?

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Low Drive Salesperson Can't HuntThe answer, for the most part, is “No.

A lot of data now shows that almost all successful salespeople who are asked to go out and develop new business share the innate personality characteristic psychologists call “Drive.”

Learn why low-Drive salespeople could be hurting your sales and how to find the right high-Drive salespeople.


Importance of Drive in Sales

Drive consists of sub-characteristics including Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism that cannot be taught beyond adolescence.

We each develop these characteristics by early adulthood through a combination of our inborn characteristics and the circumstances of our upbringing.


The Sales Trainer Dilemma

As sales trainers, we would like to think we can train anyone to sell, but even great technique will not overcome deep personality patterns and behaviors that will cause salespeople who do not have Drive to fall off the tracks over time.

A simple analogy, asking people with low-Drive to consistently chase and close new business is like asking people who are not blessed with great speed to compete at high levels of track and field.

At some point, those low-Drive sales reps will just not be able to keep up; they will become discouraged, and you will wind up terminating them after having invested tens of thousands of dollars in the time and effort of training.


Where Low-Drive Sales Employees Thrive

While lower Drive salespeople may not meet performance expectations as key sales drivers, they are still beneficial to the team.

Low-Drive salespeople can contribute as service partners to the hunters or in shepherding existing business that the rainmakers have produced, but it is usually a huge mistake to set up the expectation that someone low in Drive will rise to the ultimate sales challenge of pure new business development.

The important factor for sales trainers and managers to understand is the identification of lower and higher Drive salespeople. An online sales test is almost always beneficial in differentiating between these Drive levels in an existing sales team and when hiring new sales representatives.


How to Recognize Drive in Your Sales Reps

Salesman with Need for Achievement Competitiveness and optimism are relatively easy traits to gauge in sales aptitude testing and interview settings. They are generally bold personality traits that are sometimes initially identifiable.

The third Drive trait, however, makes this trifecta one of the most accurate and beneficial indicators of sales success in potential sales candidates.

Those who score high in the “Need for Achievement” measurement will likely become rainmakers or hunters in your sales team.

Need for Achievement is the desire that your sales candidate has to pursue excellence, for its own sake, and reach difficult goals.

This characteristic is not something that is easily measured but can have lasting impacts on your sales closing rates. An online sales test is one of the best ways to assess this defining sales trait.

The world of psychology has been evaluating individuals with a high desire for achievement for years. They have concluded that high-Drive individuals:

  • Are defined by their moderate risk-taking behavior that is tempered by the need to achieve excellence
  • Frequently ask for feedback from mentors and superiors to understand their achievements and ways to improve
  • Work well alone or as part of a team of like-minded individuals


This trait is an important piece of qualifying sales candidates when you look at it in comparison to three main drivers for humans – achievement, power, or affiliation.

The theory of these drivers was developed by psychologist David McClelland in the mid-20th century. Many sales aptitude tests and organizations that evaluate sales candidates use his theories to help form their test criteria.

Candidates who exhibit a higher need for affiliation or power may be distracted by these needs when the sales process is in play. Only those who exhibit a high Need for Achievement will be driven to perform higher in these circumstances, when compared to other needs-driven candidates.


Using an Online Sales Aptitude Test Effectively

Sales Rep Taking Aptitude TestThe results of an online sales test will provide sales managers and trainers with the information to construct a well-rounded sales team with supportive roles and rainmakers. An effective team will need a combination of low and high-Drive salespeople to remain viable.

A team composed entirely of high-Drive people will be in constant individual competition, which could strain the harmony and work duties of the team as a whole.

A team comprising entirely of low-Drive people will likely fail to bring in much new business and leave your sales statistics stagnant.

Use testing results to build a team that will work together and make the most of each person’s innate sales abilities. Remember that the team will work most effectively when a mixture of skills and Drive levels are introduced. These test results will affect how a manager distributes work and provides motivation for individual team members.

It is paramount that you clearly define what you expect from a salesperson when beginning the hiring process and then build your recruiting and vetting process around those expectations without compromise.

If a candidate does not have the skills you are looking for, when evaluated alongside the results of the sales test, he or she will likely not be a good fit for your team.

Faking the components of Drive is possible in short spurts, but over the long term pretenders will fail to provide the hallmarks your team needs to grow and remain successful.

Sales tests arm managers and trainers with the information needed to make informed decisions about a candidate’s true likelihood of becoming a high-Drive salesperson.


To Sum Up

Whether you are working with an existing sales team or you are ready to bring on new recruits, your ability to gauge Drive will be an integral part of the decision making process. Take a look at the following points:

1. Low-Drive individuals may be able to perform as high-Drive individuals for short amounts of time. Don’t expect them to maintain a high level of performance.

2. Incorporate low-Drive individuals into your team to maintain support functions while your high-Drive sales individuals are out making things happen.

3. Use an online sales test to make important decisions about hiring, training and supporting your team.

4. High-Drive individuals will exhibit consistently high levels of Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism. Once identified, provide them with the support they need to thrive.

A successful sales team is about more than “the hunt.” Strategically evaluating your sales team and hiring the appropriate ratio of Drive levels will provide you with the hunters and supporters needed to successfully grow your business.


Sales Hiring Simplified!

Hire top-performing salespeople with The DriveTest®. Get started now with one free test.

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