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An Open Letter to Sales Managers Who’ve Been Burned by Their Salespeople

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Dear Frustrated Business Owner and Sales Manager,

I have owned and managed large and small businesses with sales teams ranging from one critical salesperson to a salesforce of several thousand.

Whatever the case, I was always mystified about how FEW people really sell well… well enough to drive growth… well enough to create great wealth!

And, on the other hand, I was also sickened by the astonishing, destructive financial effect of carrying unproductive sales talent…

These people SAY they can sell but literally break our hearts, and often our pocket books, as we tolerate their excuses for months… sometimes years.

We’ve all been there and I’m sure you can relate!

In one of my previous companies, we needed a high-performing salesperson.  So I did what any business owner or sales manager would do.

I advertised for one.

Some promising candidates applied.  They all had great resumes.  They all had great references.  I spent hours interviewing, calling, vetting.  I finally zeroed in on a great looking candidate.

He was smart. A great talker.  Had a good sense of humor.  Very charismatic.

He said he had always sold well and that he was going to sell well…  very well…  for me.

I was sold.

My gut was telling me “THIS is the guy!”

So I hired him, and when I drove home that evening I felt great, because I had landed a sales star.

On Monday he showed up and proceeded to charm the whole office.  He made his rounds and also charmed the list of INHERITED clients we gave him.  We could not wait to see how many NEW clients he would start bringing in…

So we waited…

And waited…

At three months we met and he said… “don’t worry… I have some great stuff cooking especially a big one… ABC COMPANY!”

I said to myself “Wow, ABC Company, that would be a whale!”  I got excited again and told myself “Be patient, wait it out, this sales star needs some time to get acclimated.”

So I waited…

Six months after his start date….

“I am getting so close, especially on ABC Company!  I took them all to Morton’s last night (big tab) and they PROMISED me we will get some business soon.”

So I waited some more…

You know how this story is going to end.

We hung in for 1 year. 

Between carrying costs, training down the tube, management time and opportunity cost we figure it cost us around $100,000 before we cut this classic sweet talker loose.

He was a great guy.  A charming promoter.  But he was missing one very key ingredient.

He wouldn’t, he couldn’t, close jack s**t!

After talking to many, many business owners and sales managers who shared the same frustration, I decided to do something about it.

I commissioned a highly-credentialed industrial psychologist, Dr. Christopher Croner, who had been conducting extensive research on salesperson dynamics.  Specifically, I asked him to focus upon personality characteristics that cannot be taught that high performance salespeople, aka closers, share in common.

My thinking was that the challenge might not be one of training or management or compensation, for example… that it might be one of aptitude… and if we could solve for aptitude, we could greatly raise the odds that our time and investment in salespeople would generate the returns we were all looking for.

Dr. Croner went deep into the research and his findings exceeded my expectations.

He found that high performance salespeople DO indeed share several, NON-TEACHABLE characteristics.

Without knowing if these characteristics are in place prior to hiring, we were basically rolling the dice rather than approaching hiring with the science, and the sense of certainty in every salesperson hire deserves.

Here are the characteristics high performance salespeople share.  When you read these characteristics, they will probably resonate, because you see them every day in your top producers.

  1. Need for Achievement – This is the person who lives for achieving, the person who loves a challenge and when he meets that challenge, immediately sets the bar higher because he is never, ever satisfied.  Picture a mountain climber who is not satisfied just climbing one of the world’s great mountains . . . she has to climb all seven of the top peaks . . . and then find another challenge because that is who she is and how she lives.
  2. Competitiveness – They say Michael Jordan would not let you leave a ping-pong match or a game of pool until he beat you.  He loved winning… at anything… at everything… and hated losing.  Competitive salespeople even compete with their prospects… it is the thrill of the match that turns them on.
  3. Optimism – Great salespeople are remarkable optimists.  They do not personalize rejection, and they always feel that the next call will surely be a winner.  They love the chase and the joy of closing!

These three characteristics must ALL be in place because they combine to form the trait psychologists call DRIVE! 

Now here is the bad news… (Don’t worry, good news to follow)

In the context of sales, less than one in five people have enough Drive to generate and sustain high performance over time.

That means that four out of five people who are applying for your sales positions have no more aptitude to thrive in that position than a rocket scientist who is poor in math.

But how do you determine who has Drive? 

It’s challenging because Drive is actually pretty easy to fake in an interview… anyone can ACT driven.  But sales is not about acting, it is about hunting, achieving and sustaining.  That is where the difference lies.

Now let’s discuss the good news.

Remember our psychologist Dr. Croner?

I asked him if he could recommend an assessment a salesperson candidate could take to measure Drive before we made a commitment to hire him.

He said he could not recommend any current assessments, that while there are many worthwhile ones available, none of them were hitting DRIVE hard enough and to him, DRIVE held the aptitude key.

So I then did what any intrepid entrepreneur would do, I underwrote him to create one.

That is how the DriveTest™ was born. 

The DriveTest™ is an assessment candidates take online to EARN THE PRIVILEGE of coming in to meet you, personally, for an interview.  It measures the big three Drive characteristics as well as several, important, teachable skills you may be interested in as well.

Now you have some real data behind your hiring process.

Intuition is important, but let’s be honest, what is our REAL percentage of picking winners on our gut alone?

I know because I’ve made several costly hiring mistakes from listening only to my gut.

Put it this way:  In sports, all the pro teams use analytics to help select million dollar draft choices.  They want certain things you just can’t teach… speed, strength… they figure they can teach great athletes the game.

Your selection of salespeople is every bit as important to building YOUR championship team.

As sales managers and business owners, salesperson hiring decisions make and break our businesses.

Can you imagine being able to determine Drive with CERTAINTY?  Knowing if an applicant has the ability to be a top performer as soon as you receive their application.

Now you can truly manage the hiring process and stop wasting time in interviewing bad salespeople.

Save company costs by not wasting money in salary, training, management time and more.

Identify and hire ONLY high aptitude salespeople that you can stack your team with who are a pleasure to train, mold and deploy…

High-performing sales athletes that are capable of PRODUCING and of generating tremendous wealth … for you!

Use The DriveTest™ as the advantage over your competition.  Get it before they use it on you.

It was an absolute game changer for me.

Click here to get a free trial and test one of your current salespeople or candidates.

Thank you for listening and “good hunting.”

Richard Abraham
Richard Abraham Company, LLC


Sales Hiring Simplified!

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

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Sales Hiring Simplified!

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