The short answer: Maybe.
Hiring managers occasionally encounter sales candidates who are especially persistent. The candidates might call or email recruiters frequently to get an update on their status.
Of course, persistence is a very important trait for success in sales. So, it can be tempting to conclude that a persistent candidate will be high in Drive, tirelessly tracking down new leads.
However, as a sales manager, you need to know if this persistence is really a sign of the candidate’s Drive or if it is something else.
You need to do more digging to determine whether the candidate will really put that same degree of persistence to work for you. After all, many sales candidates are very savvy at looking the part during the recruitment phase, they probe for your pain in the interview, they present well-polished resumes and they keep calling/emailing to close the deal. The key question is whether the candidate has the Drive necessary to maintain that tenacity over the long haul.
4 Possible Reasons for a Candidate’s Persistence
The candidate is following his parents’/aunt’s/relative’s outdated career advice.
Too often, a candidate that is fresh out of college asks for career advice from the wrong people. It is not the candidate’s fault; he is, after all, inexperienced. In any case, the advice the candidate receives may be outdated advice. This includes the old myth of “persistence will get you a job.” Some candidates are told to cold call recruiters, follow up frequently or even to repeatedly send their resumes to the same company.
The bottom line is that this is not true persistence. This is not Drive. This is a candidate that is following career advice that may no longer work in today’s job market.
The candidate is desperate for a job.
After the country’s latest recession, there simply were not enough jobs for everyone who wanted one. For some, it took over a year to find a steady income, and others are still recovering from the economic hit.
Your candidate might be so desperate for a job, that he might try being overly persistent in hopes that it will make him stand out from the rest of the candidates.
The candidate has persistence for short term goals, but lacks the Drive to maintain this level of persistence for the long haul.
Your candidate might have persistence, but only for short periods of time. Some people are sprinters, and others run marathons. In sales, you need candidates whose persistence will last. A person with a sprinter’s persistence may have early success in sales, but will eventually burn out over the long term.
The candidate is actually high in Drive.
In rare cases, your candidate may actually be high in Drive, but you will need to make sure his persistence is not one of the other three scenarios, before offering him the sales position. The only way to know for sure if you candidate is high in Drive, is to administer a sales assessment that specifically measures Drive and follow up with a behavioral interview.
Persistence < Drive
While persistence might be an indication of Drive, it is not a telltale sign. Remember, Drive is made of three key components: Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism. A candidate that shows persistence during the hiring process might have high levels of Optimism, but might lack the Competitiveness or Need for Achievement needed for long term sales success.
In addition to the three key components of Drive, there are other personality traits that are also important. These include Confidence, Persuasion, Relationship Skills and Organization. It is possible that your very persistent candidate has high Confidence, but could need some work in the other three areas.
We are not suggesting that candidates who follow up after interviews are not great candidates for the position. Actually, we love a personalized Thank You letter sent via email, but we become suspicious if one shows up in our inbox every day for the next few weeks.
So how can you tell the difference between a candidate that is being persistent because he has the Drive to succeed in sales and when he is just following outdated career advice or desperate to be employed?
A true hunter will know how to properly network. Keep in mind that hunters are often used to people chasing them, not the other way around. If your sales candidate is a true hunter, he will follow up, just not in excess. He will send his Thank You letter, and if you do not respond within a week, he might even send another email to ask how you are doing.
But that is it.
A true hunter will always be on the lookout for new opportunities. He will not pin all his hopes on one job interview and then harass the hiring manager to death in hopes of getting a job. He will be out there, continuing to interview with different companies and he will not be wasting his time waiting by the phone.
A true farmer knows that it takes time to build a relationship. He will write you the most personalized Thank You letter you will ever read. He knows that the best way to get a person’s attention is to treat him/her with respect and as an individual.
A true farmer will not call you repeatedly because he knows that you are a very busy person and you have a lot of responsibilities. He does not want to waste your time by sending you unnecessary emails and unwanted calls.
So, he will wait until an appropriate amount of time has passed, and then he will email you another stunning letter asking very politely for an update on the position. He will even ask for any constructive feedback you can offer in case he was not chosen.
Still On the Fence about Mr. Persistent?
For a more scientific means of determining if your candidate has Drive, consider administering a sales assessment test.
SalesDrive offers a free trial of The DriveTest™, the only sales aptitude test specifically focused on measuring the key elements of Drive in potential salespeople. The DriveTest™ uses a Forced Choice format, making it harder for candidates to “fake” certain personality traits – like persistence. Our sales aptitude test will even advise you on whether your candidate is a true hunter or a true farmer. Try it for free today!