A recent study by Spearhead Training in the United Kingdom offers some valuable insight into sales success. The information in the study should wrap some hard numbers around hiring practices and the mould of the successful salesperson. The conclusions were reached with the help of a study of 380 salespeople in the consumer goods industry.
Here is the gist of the article: hard work and effort trumps talent in sales. This has implications for salespeople, managers and hiring managers. Very interestingly, this study aims to answer the oft-asked question on how to hire for and increase the chances of success in sales. What is better predictor of success in sales? Is it talent? Is it experience or is there an optimal combination of these adjectives?
This study looked at five factors, namely competitiveness, self-motivation, conflicts in one’s career and objectives, conflict in roles i.e. negative experiences on the job such as negative prospects, and the amount of work put into the job.
The study has several eye-opening conclusions. Self-motivated and competitive salespersons have the least number of problems. People who are naturally competitive have the least problem with motivation. There is a direct correlation between effort and success. This is followed secondly by competitiveness.
The conclusion is that hiring managers should sniff for competitiveness above all else. The number one type to look for in a salesperson, according to this study, is a fighter. A fighter is someone who strives hard and is as competitive as possible.
The second conclusion is to place processes in place. The study insists that people who want to and indeed do put in the effort to do the right things will succeed. One example given is setting a minimum number of mandated customer visits every month (for field salespeople) for instance.