What Makes Salespeople Stand Out from the Crowd?

Recently, several of us sat in the conference room, discussing several dozen salespeople we had interviewed.  We had the data from their OMG sales assessments, but wanted to determine if any of them stood out from rest of the pack and if they did, what it was that made them stand out.

The challenge in this exercise was that whatever made them stand out was not necessarily going to show up or be correlated by data on the assessments.

The other challenge in the exercise was whether the factors we identified would be common factors among all who stood out, or factors that were unique to each individual that stood out.

It turned out that there were 6 that stood out from about 45 in all.  The factors we identified included things like:

  • presence
  • appreciation for the help
  • perceived desire for and commitment to self-improvement
  • their self-awareness and knowledge of strengths and weaknesses in the context of the roles they are in and the challenges they face.
  • how likable they are
  • their next steps
  • the questions they asked
  • their receptiveness to constructive criticism and coaching
The problem with this exercise is that weak salespeople could exhibit these qualities and strong salespeople may not.  So on its own, without the benefit of the assessments, one can’t draw any conclusions other than “we liked her!” or “he has great potential!”  It is also a great example of what sales managers eventually go through when hiring salespeople without benefit of having assessed the sales candidates first.  They focus on traits that aren’t predictive of success, but fall in love anyway because they liked what they heard and saw.
Great salespeople are a jigsaw puzzle with each data point representing just one piece, not the whole picture.  And nothing connects more of the pieces of the puzzle than a customized, sales specific OMG sales candidate assessment.