September 5, 2013

Sales managers often wonder if they should attempt to use testing to clone their top performing salespeople.  This can be a very tempting proposition . . . who would not want an entire team that performs just like the top producer?  However before we apply testing for this purpose, we need to keep a few critical caveats in mind . . . 

First, the top performing salesperson on any team is just that . . . the top producer relative to the rest of the team.  However, when compared to the entire universe of high-performing salespeople, that individual may not be as close to the top of the list.  Secondly, several variables may have contributed to the top producer’s standing . . . for example, that individual may be spending most of his time mining an existing book of business which he built much earlier in his career . . . he may not have the degree of intensity you would need in a new recruit with a blank Rolodex.  Additionally, the top producer may be supported by more aggressive cold callers/door openers, allowing him to be a strong closer (not a bad thing at all, but not quite the same as developing new accounts from scratch).  Finally, the brand/marketing may be doing much of the selling, resulting in lots of RFP’s . . . the top producer may be great at responding to them, but, again, is not engaging in personal groundbreaking efforts.

All of these caveats are important to consider before a sales manager tests his or her top performer for the three elements of Drive (Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism).  Often, managers are tempted to take this person’s overall score and simply look for candidates who meet or exceed that score.  However, for the reasons above, it is not unusual for current, high performers to record low to average Drive results, which could potentially set the benchmark too low for recruiting purposes.  Therefore, although sales managers are free to test and review the scores of their top performers, they need to carefully consider the limitations of using these scores for hiring benchmarks.  Starting fresh by hiring candidates who score high on a sales test and perform well in the interview is often a more effective approach for managers aiming to substantially raise the bar for themselves and their team.

Click here to learn more about our sales test . . . the DriveTest . . . for measuring the three elements of Drive in your 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.