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How to Identify, Attract and Hire Sales Superstars

Identifying, attracting, and hiring high-achieving salespeople requires patience and discipline, especially given the current talent shortage.

Identifying, attracting, and hiring high-achieving salespeople requires patience and discipline, especially given the current talent shortage. It may be tempting to fill an empty role (and save yourself time and work) by hiring someone who’s merely qualified, not Driven.

However, Dr. Christopher Croner says compromising on the caliber of your hires is not an option: The quality of your salespeople directly determines the quality of your results. He shares five things you can do to find and hire the most ‘Driven’ high performers:


Attract sales candidates with targeted job listings

High-Drive people are attracted to high-Drive situations, so that’s how you should position your company in job listings. (Bonus: Low-Drive job seekers might decide for themselves that they’re not the best fit after reading your description.) Use words and phrases that are literally and subliminally full of high-Drive signals. For example:

  • “High-potential sales position”
  • “Minimum of X years of experience successfully selling tech”
  • “Role includes the excitement of pure new business development, a.k.a.hunting
  • “Compensation is robust for those willing to work hard”
  • “Intense championship sales team”


Look for résumés that indicate ‘Drive’

When you review a candidate’s résumé and/or LinkedIn profile, there are a few indicators of high Need for Achievement (which is a crucial component of Drive):

  • The candidate is a passive (rather than an active) candidate. If the sales candidate has been out of work for a while, there may be a good reason for it.
  • The candidate is not a job-hopper.
  • The candidate is able to provide some concrete metrics to show that they have been successful previously.

“If you need a salesperson who is ready to hit the ground running, look for two to three years of previous experience at a similarly sized company,” advises Dr. Croner. “If the candidate is from a larger company, consider whether their previous success was because of their own effort or because they had strong brand recognition and collateral materials in their corner.”


Don’t limit your search to active job seekers

Salespeople with the most Drive might not be actively looking for a new job. Proactively search resources like LinkedIn to find candidates who are your ideal match across the board in terms of experience, geography, and other characteristics. Reach out to them and explain why the opportunity you’re offering is a better fit than what they’re doing right now.

“On the flip side, don’t stop looking for Driven candidates once your open position is filled,” says Dr. Croner. “Even if you are not actively trying to hire someone, constantly be on the lookout for superstars.”


Use a quality sales aptitude test

Screen candidates before the interview with a sales assessment test. Administer it to every candidate you’re considering (not just some people some of the time) to identify high-potential applicants and avoid those with less promise.

Make sure your assessment uses a question format that eliminates faking and can track your candidates’ level of consistency in their responses. SalesDrive’s proprietary DriveTest® is one such assessment. Based on 90 years of research, as well as on SalesDrive’s own work, it helps businesses identify Driven candidates who display Need for Achievement, Competitiveness, and Optimism.


Follow up with a behavioral interview

Candidates who pass the sales assessment earn the opportunity to meet with you for a one-on-one behavioral interview. Ask the candidate to discuss their previous work-related experiences that reflect the characteristics you need in your new hire. Remember, the best predictor of future behavior is previous behavior. Questions like these will be helpful:

Q: What’s the toughest goal you’ve ever set for yourself? How do you plan to top it? (Allow the candidate to fully answer the first question before proceeding to the second.)

A: Has accomplished a very challenging work goal; has a specific plan to top that goal.


Q: Tell me about the last time you worked with no direct supervision. What was most challenging about that assignment for you?

A: Challenges relate more to keeping others (e.g., colleagues, customers) on schedule, rather than their own time management.

“Taking steps to identify the presence of Drive from the very beginning will pay off for years to come,” promises Dr. Croner. “Do your due diligence up front—you’ll thank yourself later.”


Dr. Christopher Croner is principal at SalesDrive and coauthor (along with Richard Abraham) of the book Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again: Selecting Candidates Who Are Absolutely Driven to Succeed, which details his research and practice in identifying the non-teachable personality traits common to top producers. Dr. Croner received his BA in psychology from DePaul University and his master’s and PhD in clinical psychology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He developed the proprietary DriveTest®online sales test and The Drive Interview®, both used for hiring “Hunter” salespeople. Using this methodology, he has helped over 1,200 companies worldwide to hire and develop top-performing salespeople.


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