Identifying the Profile for a Successful Salesperson


Sales has changed over the last 5 years, becoming more complex and more strategic. Buyers are buying very differently, using other ways to gather the information they need to make a decision, many times leaving the salesperson completely out of the equation. To succeed, companies need to revisit their profile of what a successful salesperson in their sales environment, selling their type of products and meeting their buyers’ needs looks like. Then they need to hire or train new skills that fit that new profile.

Some things that can happen when a sales organization doesn’t have  a profile of a successful salesperson?

Experiencing a high rate of turnover, especially with new hires

The cost of hiring the wrong person for your sales organization can have some pretty daunting effects.  They can cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in the cost of hiring and training, lost sales, damage to the company brand, demoralizing the sales team and draining the resources within an organization.  For some companies, the hiring process takes a bit of time.  If what you are looking for is not what you really need, you could find yourself in an endless cycle of replacing  sales people.

Slower than normal start-up of new people

There could be many reasons why a new person is slow out of the gate.  If your new sales person is slow to get started,  many times that signals a poor fit.  They could have the right skills but are totally unwilling to do what it takes, which leads to frustration all around.  If your sales cycle is a long one, it could take a long time to figure out the misfit. All of this costs money and can be extremely frustrating.

Changing market with sales being more difficult now and the old ways of selling are not working

With all the changes that have happened in the last five years, it has become more difficult to get in to see a new prospect unless you have the right connections to that person. For a new sales person, those connections may not exist. Evaluating the new buyer journey will help to evaluate how sales people need to get to their prospective buyers. With the arrival of virtual selling  using technology, there is a whole new set of technology skills that weren’t of any real importance until COVID. Companies that don’t take the time to learn how best to get to their potential buyers are much like the rodent on the hamster wheel; lots of activity without any forward progress toward achieving the goal.

 Average to below average sales revenue

Having skills that can elevate a sales person to the trusted advisor level are a key to being able to increase sales within existing accounts. They also help sales people provide more comprehensive solutions that not only meet the need but take it to a broader, more strategic level of solution. Let’s face it, as much as a buyer thinks they can get all the information they need online to make a buying decision, there isn’t any way possible that they can know how the solutions available could fill a broader need. Their focus on one “problem” and not allowing sales people to be involved earlier in the process really does them a disservice. A sales person who is lacking the skills to open up the discussion to explore other ways of meeting the needs of the client misses many opportunities to differentiate, provide more strategic solutions and improve their sales.

The challenge of finding people who actually want to sell

71% of millennials believe that meaningful work is an essential factor in defining career success. Unfortunately, many millennials believe that being in sales is not a worthy job to have. While many companies will hire straight out of college,  recent graduates are no longer looking at sales as an option at the rate they were before. While sales as a profession  sometimes gets a bad rap, professional sales people need to be persistent, tenacious, strategic, creative and have a thick skin.  These qualities are not that easy to find. If people who could do very well in sales don’t even pursue a sales position, the pool of candidates for sales positions shrinks. 

Changing sales models

In a survey conducted by Steve W. Martin at USC, 46% of the study participants reported a shift from a field sales model to an inside sales model. 21% reversed the switch. Either way, the sales environment changed in a way that could cause people to leave their organization. The type of person who can fill these roles is different. Just saying to sales people, “this is how are going to do it now” doesn’t mean that it will automatically work.

Another strategy that many companies are using is hiring an  inexperienced “junior” sales person and coaching them into great sales people. They are banking on the potential of a  person and their ability to build them into great sales people.  This strategy has pros and cons and has a ripple effect in that the profile of success changes, hiring protocols change and, some training elements change. Time spent managing and coaching becomes more important and will cost more in  the beginning.

Hiring the best of the pool of candidates only to end up in failure

The old saying “if you don’t know where you’re going, any place will do” can apply to hiring the right sales person. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can fall into the trap of hiring the best of the pool, even if none of the candidates really fit the profile of someone who would be successful selling your products or services. Hiring the wrong person leads to consequences like spending time and money on hiring and training with no return on that investment, slowing down your team’s progress toward meeting the sales goals of the organization, loss of goodwill with potential and existing buyers, damage to your brand in the marketplace, among others.

 We can help you identify the skills needed for a top performing sales team.

 The Path to Growth Starts Here

What is a Profile of the Successful Sales Person?

A Profile of the Successful Sales Person is a description of a sales person who does the right things to produce the right sales for your company.

The Profile Identifies

Minimum and ideal levels of knowledge and experience required

Skills, both interpersonal and technical, necessary

Attributes such as problem solving, relationship building, critical thinking,  confidence and oral communication

Willingness, motivation, competitiveness and drive

Fit, both with your organization’s culture and values and in the way they will need to work (i.e. autonomous vs. highly structured, long sales cycle vs. short sales cycle, inside or field sales)

Why is a Profile of the Successful Sales Person Important?

Finding that person who is able to sell in your sales environment can make or break your success. Identifying the profile of someone who would be successful at your company and then hiring (or promoting) to that profile helps to prevent turnover, improve start up times and increase sales revenue. The cost of a bad hire includes the hiring costs, training costs, managers’ time, customer goodwill, brand damage in the market place. Starting over with new sales people stymies growth of the organization and takes away from time that can be spent on activities that produce results.

While it is important when creating the profile to identify the type of sale it is and what skills and attributes are necessary to be successful, it also entails more than just looking at skills.

When creating the profile, we look at three different areas:

Can they do it? Skills, knowledge and experience
Will they do it? Willingness and motivation to do what it takes to be successful
Will they fit? Values and cultural fit with your company and its way of doing business as well as a fit for the type of sales that your company does

Creating and using the profile of a successful sales person, you can build hiring tools and develop coaching and training that will help keep your organization on an upward sales trend.

Sales can be very different depending upon how sales are found, won and expanded in different situations and different markets. A person selling clothing at a retail store has very different tasks to perform to make a sale than someone who is selling multi-million-dollar equipment. The rewards are also different.

There are hunters and there are farmers. Hunters love to go out and find new business – the thrill of the “kill” if you will. Farmers are more patient, cultivating their clients, nurturing them to bear more fruit. Both of these have unique sets of competencies necessary for success. Short sales cycles are good for those who need instant, or almost instant gratification. Long sales cycles require patience and tenacity, attributes not required in the one-call-close sale.

A good profile can be used to create behavioral interview questions, provide a set of criteria to use when coaching, and set up a training curriculum.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.  We can help you create the profile and tools to hire the right people to achieve success.

Let's talk sales person profiles

How Can SEG Help?

Since 1984, SEG has worked with organizations to identify what they are looking for when hiring sales people and helped them to simplify their hiring process. We can help in these areas:

Determine a profile for now and into the future

What is one of the keys to a business' success? Hiring right – making sure a new employee is a good fit, and aligns with a firm's core values.

Identify the skills, knowledge, attributes, environment and willingness components for the profile

Know your product, sales cycle, go to market strategy and goals and you will be better suited for hiring your next high-performing salesperson.

Create behavioral based interviewing protocols

Create a realistic job preview for use when recruiting

A Realistic Job Preview offers detailed information to ensure the candidate has a realistic picture of the position, the skills required, and the overall organizational culture.

Train your sales managers in interviewing skills

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