April 18, 2013

We know salespeople have to be high in innate Drive to achieve high performance in sales.

learn how to identify competitveness in salespeople to drive salesWe also know key elements of Drive include Need for Achievement and Optimism. But here is the third leg of the Drive stool: Competitiveness.

High performance salespeople love to compete, and they do it well. They compete in sports. They compete in hobbies. They compete with each other.

And get this – they even compete with their buyers.

Sound counterintuitive? Here is what we mean:


High-Drive salespeople see selling as a competitive game. It is actually a test of wills where they need to persuade the customer to buy something to win.

Yes, they can be consultative and helpful. It is their innate Competitiveness, however, that makes them keep trying again and again to find ways into their buyers’ hearts and minds so they can feel the rush of victory and avoid the agony of defeat. The distaste of “losing” is every bit as powerful, sometimes more so, than the exhilaration of winning.

Strong Drivers tend to work in both ways. The positive winning experience translates to a devastating loss when something goes wrong. The need to compete is an innate characteristic.

Not all people feel this need to the degree necessary to succeed as a high performance salesperson. In fact, there are many unsuccessful salespeople in the industry right now who are under-performing because they have no motivation to compete.

Managers and other team members may become frustrated with these individuals who create obstacles rather than solve problems. That is why identifying someone’s love for competition, prior to hiring, is such an important part of the salesperson recruiting puzzle.


How to Identify Competitiveness in Salespeople

salespeople competing to reach finish line

Competitiveness can be difficult to spot.

While it may seem easy to identify competitiveness as an overt characteristic in some salespeople, it can also be displayed more subtly in others.

It is important to remember that you cannot always judge a salesperson by his or her first impression.

High-Drive individuals have a range of different personalities. They are not all obviously outgoing and talkative. Some highly competitive salespeople may come across as shy at first. They can also be attentive listeners. Regardless of presentation, however, they all have the same inner Drive to compete and succeed.

Since you may not be able to tell which candidates have a high level of Competitiveness through the traditional interview process, it is important to combine the interview with additional sales recruitment tools to be sure you are correctly identify top candidates for your company.

Having top candidates take a sales assessment prior to the in-person interview can be invaluable for identifying those salespeople who have the highest potential for long-term success in sales. A well-developed assessment will use a seemingly innocuous questionnaire to gain an understanding of candidates’ personality profiles before they ever enter an interview room.

The end result benefits your company by further narrowing the pool of qualified applicants and showing you who has the potential to succeed, and even become a rainmaker, within your organization. A sales assessment saves you time and money, by allowing you to focus only on the best candidates for your business.


How to Attract Highly Competitive Salespeople

how to attract salespeople with incentivesOnce you identify the candidates with high-Drive traits, such as Competitiveness, and those individuals have also performed well in subsequent interviews, it is time to start the negotiation process.

When trying to secure a highly competitive candidate, it is important to remember what these salespeople are drawn to – the spirit of the competition.

These candidates will want to work with you to find the best possible outcome for employment, just like they will work with your customers.

Here are some of the salesperson recruiting strategies you can use to your advantage to encourage candidates to become part of and stay with your organization:

  • Sell your culture. Maybe your company has a casual dress code, works together in a unique environment or really helps employees reach their professional goals. Whatever makes your culture unique is what will ultimately cause a high-Drive individual to choose your team over someone else’s.
  • Offer flexibility. Great salespeople use a variety of different methods to reach their goals. Often, these talented individuals will only thrive if offered a reasonable amount of flexibility in their work and scheduling. Focus on a results-driven policy rather than minimum requirements to get the best-selling potential out of your representatives.
  • Talk about incentives. Really speak to a competitive person’s inner motivation by highlighting performance incentives. Whether monetary, career-building or flexibility-oriented, incentives are a powerful driving force for anyone naturally competitive. Keep the incentive program lighthearted and team-oriented to really encourage a positive work environment.
  • Encourage out-of-the-box thinking. When you have a team of highly competitive salespeople, you also have an opportunity to innovate. Take advantage of the team dynamic by encouraging individuals to use new methods and techniques to get sales. The encouraging environment will keep your brightest motivated while providing a strong benefit to the company as a whole. This positive culture can pay dividends for your employees and company.


These motivating factors are a great start for keeping high-Drive individuals moving forward in their sales careers.

Next, it is time to think about the overall team structure.

It is rare that a sales team will be made up entirely of high-Drive individuals. In fact, a team lacking a mixture of personalities may not work well together. Try to find a mixture of individuals.

High-Drive salespeople tend to work well on the front lines, interacting with new prospects and keeping the sales numbers high. Low- and medium-Drive individuals can still be incredibly invaluable to a sales team, they just may not have the Competitiveness necessary to bring in new customers.

Keep these individuals in supportive roles to really take advantage of the capabilities of your team as a whole. Encourage High- and Lower-Drive individuals to partner together to complete projects. Their skill sets will complement each other to yield positive sales results.

The next time you start to get frustrated with high turnover rates or an unsuccessful recruiting campaign, remember what Competitiveness, as a part of Drive, can mean to a sales team. Consider implementing a recruiting strategy that includes a sales assessment test, such as The DriveTest™, to target individuals that are born to become rainmakers in your company.