Strategies For Hiring Top-Performing Salespeople With Christopher Croner [Episode 62]

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Are you confident in hiring top salespeople?

Hiring A-game salespeople is one of the biggest and best game changers for your business – if you do it right. That’s where Doug C. Brown and Dr. Christopher Croner, the CEO of SalesDrive, LLC come in, and they’re telling how to do just that. Join them as they discuss finding and hiring the right sales team, nature versus nurture in top sales performers, maintaining a healthy ecosystem, and much more.


In this episode you will learn:


Episode’s guest – Christopher Croner

CSS 62 | Top Performing Salespeople

Dr. Christopher Croner is a Principal with SalesDrive, LLC, a firm that specializes in the selection and deployment of high-performing salespeople. Dr. Croner is co-author of the book, Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again, now in its second edition, detailing his research and practice in identifying the non-teachable personality traits common to top producers. Dr. Croner developed the proprietary DriveTest® assessment and the Drive Interview for salesperson selection. Using this system, he has helped over 1,400 companies worldwide to hire and develop top-performing salespeople.

Visit his website: salesdrive.info

Chris and SalesDrive, LLC are delighted to offer one (1) complimentary trial assessment to audience members who
are hiring salespeople (1 per company). Learn more here: www.salesdrive.info/free-trial-request


Strategies For Hiring Top-Performing Salespeople With Christopher Croner

We’re bringing you another amazing guest. His name is Dr. Christopher Croner and he owns a company called SalesDrive. I brought him on because Chris focuses on what is a high-performing salesperson, how you find them, retain them, hire them, and how you do it the right way. There are a lot of characteristics around this. You know I have talked about this subject in the past. A lot of people are still asking questions. How do I do this? How do I do this right? How do I do it safely? How do I do this and make it work? What am I supposed to look for? More importantly, what am I not supposed to do? Without further ado, let’s go talk to Chris and let’s find out.

Chris, welcome to the show. I’m grateful you are here.

Thank you so much for having me. I look forward to being of service.

We have a topic of choice which is always near and dear to my heart, which is how do you hire top-performing salespeople? More importantly, how do you do it the right way? You wrote a book on this and the book is cool. It’s called Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again by Dr. Christopher Croner. I recommend the book. This is the second edition of the book, so go out and get the book. Let’s dive right in. What is a top-performing salesperson versus just a top performer? What’s the pinnacle of the A-player versus the average top producer?

Everything is relative to a given company, but it’s a distinction where people know that person when they see them. It’s the person that goes above and beyond. It’s the mentality of the kid in school that has to get an A. It’s the person who is constantly focused on setting the bar high, jumping over that setting higher again the next time. They are not satisfied with any given level of production. They always want to exceed that level of production.

There are many salespeople who get up to a certain pinnacle and then they plateau at that pinnacle because that’s satisfying them. It’s someone who is a top performer as we define who has that non-teachable drive characteristic, those three elements. They are constantly thinking about what they can do to surpass their previous performance. The key distinction is wherever you see them now, you are going to see them higher next month, higher the following month or the following year again and again. They are constantly climbing. That’s the key distinction.

Why do people get satiated or satisfied in sales? In most sales, you can have a compensation plan that’s unlimited. Somebody can earn $50 million on their compensation plan, but then they get stuck and they stop there. Why do they do that?

In many cases, people start out with a goal in mind. They have a goal in mind for what they want to do, how much money they want to make, and how successful they want to be. They then go from that point to their sales career. At some point, they reached that goal. They reached that level. They worked very hard to reach that level. At that point, they have satisfied those things.

On the other side, you can have individuals that have a lot of external pressures on them. We have companies who come to us frustrated and say, “We look for candidates with a lot of external pressures, somebody who has a mortgage, a couple of car payments or kids in school.” Those external pressures are also very motivating. Eventually, the person gets up to a certain level and that level of external pressure is now relieved. Now they know what they need to “phone in” for after quarter just to maintain, and that’s what they do. They maintain.

They get up to a level of production that satisfies themselves, and then they just maintain it. Whereas the person motivated by the characteristics that we’ll talk about, particularly the need for achievement, will continue to excel. They will continue to produce. Money is still important to them, but they look at money the same way that a great athlete looks at points on the scoreboard. It’s how they show how well they have done rather than their goal in and of itself.

CSS 62 | Top Performing Salespeople
Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again: Selecting Candidates Who Are Absolutely Driven to Succeed

The A-players or high-performing top players don’t have to be motivated. They are already motivated intrinsically from birth or whenever on.

It’s a combination of nature and nurture. There’s the way the person is wired at birth. There’s a trait that psychologists called conscientiousness. A facet of that is achievement striving, then there’s the way the person was raised. Typically, the person who ends up having a high need for achievement is held accountable in some way for their behavior during their childhood. It could be many different things. It could be academic performance. It could be performance athletically. Maybe they are watching their brothers and sisters. They could be in a band. Whatever it is, they are held accountable. Those two things together, nature and nurture. By the time they are in their late teens or early twenties, that characteristic is relatively solidified.

We are looking for the nature and nurture characteristics as opposed to, “This person is likable. This person might be able to sell or they have a track record of selling.” We are still looking for those two characteristics, which is an indicator that this person is never going to be satisfied no matter where they are at. As the top athletes, they want to be Michael Jordan and they want to be out there. They are going to practice early. They are going to leave late. They are going to run more drills than other people. They are going to make more phone calls. They are going to make more relationships. They are going to do whatever they have to do to be at the top.

That’s the key distinction. We talk about practice there, the characteristics that are teachable and those that are not teachable. On the teachable side, many people think they are looking for a salesperson who has the gift of gab and enjoys persuasion and just likes people, but you can teach someone persuasion and relationship skills. Past the age of 21 or 22, you cannot change the drive. Either it’s there or it’s not. It’s that Michael Jordan mentality, that person who is practicing the things that they can practice. Intrinsically, they have those non-teachable pieces that compel them to do that.

It’s very interesting because when I think back to my sales career, I was always number one. If I was number two, it drove me nuts. I didn’t think about it in that capacity because I was doing what I naturally would do in the first place. I haven’t taken your assessment yet, which you spend a lot of time painstakingly putting together and I will take that. I suspect that I am that type of person. I have always felt I was. All the people that I hang around with, we meet each other by basically going, “It’s good to see you. I’m better than you. Do you know that?” Some people would think that’s arrogance but it’s not. It’s one of those things that this is how we think.

It’s the way the person is wired. It was like that Netflix special on Michael Jordan, the person that is always looking at the people around them that provides a background and says, “Here’s the level they are.” I want to measure myself in relation to that. That’s that competitiveness. When you add that competitiveness to that achievement strive and the person who simply wants to do well for its own sake, that’s when you got the deadly combination. That person has to have their victory, has to win, has to compare themselves to the team, and must come out on top. A concern we often get then as well is, “Is this person going to be the bowl in the China shop?”

If they are going to be too excessively competitive. That’s why we also look at the need for achievement. It moderates that. A person with a high need for achievement is like a kid in school. They just have to get an A. We have had many sales managers who will tell us, “I would much rather have somebody that I can pull back rather than someone I need to push.” That person who has that high need for achievement wants to do well for their own sake, and they will adjust their behavior if, for any reason, there’s something they are doing that potentially is getting in their way.

It makes a lot of sense. When I managed many sales teams over my life, we would get those people who get saturated. They would come in and get at 300, 350, or whatever on the thing. They are like, “It’s more money than I needed. Everybody is taken care of.” They kick back, relax and do that. This may not sound great, but one of the techniques in getting those people motivated is you have them go out and buy a new expensive car, boat or whatever. All of a sudden it’s like, “I need an extra $35,000,” so they get back out producing again.

When you put the person under the gun in some way, that can simulate some of that achievements drive because now they have an external pressure that’s motivating them. That’s fantastic, but eventually, the pressure is relieved. Now you’ve got to think, “What’s the next thing we can get them to go out and buy.”

It’s not that they are arrogant. I have had this conversation a lot with people around hiring. I have hired hundreds if not over a thousand of people in sales in my life. I constantly have this conversation and they think, “These top producers are like that. They got to be the most arrogant and disruptive.” I think that was the word you used, disruptive to the organization. If they are truly an overachiever or if they are truly that personality and they have all of these traits that you are talking about, they are going to be some of the easiest employees to employ and keep happy. They are going to keep your people happy as well as your clients because they don’t want to disrupt the whole process. That’s been my understanding. Is that your understanding as well?

People start out with a goal in mind for what they want to do in terms of how much money they want to make and how successful they want to be. Share on X

It’s important that we understand the proper care and feeding of this type of individual. We talk about the environment. The environment for any company has to be ready to have that high-performing salesperson. There are all the elements of what we can think of as the ecosystem of sales. They are still with the company culture, which is important, the management style, and the compensation plan. All those things come together at the end of the day.

It’s like an athlete. You ultimately determine how successful that person will be. In this case, when we are talking about personality, we are talking about raw athletic ability. How fast can they run? How high can they jump? If you get somebody with that high need for achievement, we have to make sure that we are giving them the environment in which that person can naturally thrive.

As you talked about at the beginning, we are not putting any limits on what they can do production-wise, but we are also recognizing that what is the most important to that person is to be recognized and to feel that significance. They have the opportunity to be significant. We give them those kudos when they are successful, the awards and so forth. That’s how they know how well they have done if you will.

As long as the environment is conducive to the person doing well, that is the absolute perfect scenario, and they will do well. Particularly in situations now where people can’t be monitored all the time. We have more people working remotely. You are not always looking over someone’s shoulder. It’s that entrepreneurial mindset. That’s what we look for.

There’s a myth or fallacy that some people are thinking, “If they are such high performers, they don’t want training. They don’t need that type of stuff. I can hire somebody, put them in play, and they will go out and do their own thing.” I know that not to be true. What has been your experience in this too?

That’s one of the challenges companies have. They will hear about the drive model. “This sounds great. Let’s get a high-drive salesperson and throw them to the wolves. They should be able to handle themselves.” If someone is early in their career, they still need that help. They still need to know the right things to do. They might not necessarily like training if they are a bit late in their career, and they find that training is meaningless to them because they already have that knowledge.

They are mercenary with their time to be sure, but they are still going to need some care and feeding. They still need to be managed correctly to be successful. As we talk about in the book, it’s having that mission meeting with that person during the first week and making sure that we are aligned. Not only does that person understand the goals of the company, but the company is expressing to them that they understand what’s most important to that person. They are bonded with that manager so that your goals are very much in line.

When you accomplish those steps during the first 30, 60 or 90 days, you set that person up for success. You can let them go because they are going to want to do well for their own sake. You need to circle back to them regularly to give them the extra support they need and make sure the environment is ready for that high-performer. It’s supportive of the individual who’s high in need of achievement.

It’s important then that if a company is going to look and they want these high-performing players on their sales team, the questions they should probably ask themselves first are, “Are you an A-player company? Are you set up for this?” I know for myself and every one of my high-performing friends, that if the company is not set up, we will do 1 or 2 things. A) We’ll quit because we got five other offers already on the table usually. I’m not trying to be arrogant. I’m just trying to get the personality profile of real life. B) We’ll start innovating and making it all up and make it happen anyway. That might be disruptive to the organization more so like we’ll sell stuff you don’t even have, and then force operations to put it in play. What can a company do to look at this and say, “I’m going to get ready for these people. I should have these things in place.”

In many cases, it’s the philosophical gut-check. It’s getting ready for bringing those sorts of individuals on board. It’s the philosophy of the companies that are ready for that. Are they ready for bringing someone onboard who has that desire to achieve? It’s easy to say, “Sure we are,” but are you ready for those salespeople that have that need for achievement and understanding what that means? Competitiveness. Those people want to be the best. Optimism. They are certain they are going to succeed. They are resilient.

CSS 62 | Top Performing Salespeople
Top Performing Salespeople: Someone who is a top performer constantly thinks about what they can do to surpass their previous performance. The key distinction is wherever you see them now, you’re going to see them higher next month or the following year again.


When you have that person on board, it’s like that high-performance sports car. Are you ready now to be able to drive that type of car? It’s making sure that all the other functions within the company are going to be supportive of that person As you said, is the operation going to be supportive of that person? If the person is working in manufacturing, is manufacturing going to be supportive of that person? They are going to be out. They are going to be operating at a very high level. Are all the other functions of the company going to be able to support them effectively?

It’s doing that psychological and philosophical gut check, and then looking at all the functions of the company. Are they going to be supportive of every action and everything that you have on the job description for that salesperson to do it successfully? If that person does set the bar high if they do jump over, and if they do set it higher again, are you going to be able to support them and be able to answer yes to all of those questions?

That’s a good point because just like on a high-performance car, you can take that thing into the corner at 190 miles an hour, but if you don’t have the track right, you are going to end up in the stands with that vehicle. I have noticed this. I started measuring this and looking at statistics and stuff. You may have the more current statistics. It was something like 70% of these types of players will leave a job within 90 days if and only if they deem it to be misrepresented on the front end.

They look at it and they say, “This wasn’t part of the gig. This wasn’t part of the deal. That wasn’t part of the deal. Why didn’t you express that?” Shouldn’t companies express that right upfront? “We got some issues here. We are revamping operations, so things are going to slow down a little bit here. You’ll run into this and you run into that.” I have never found that to be an impediment with these types of people, as long as they know upfront. How about you?

Setting reasonable expectations is important during the interview process, and making sure that the candidate is well aware of all the challenges the company has and the opportunities that you give the candidate. One way that you can frame that if you are still developing or still growing in some areas of the company is to look at it as an opportunity. How is this an opportunity for that candidate? What can they contribute here because of these unique challenges that we are continuing to improve upon? How is this in some way an opportunity that they can get with us that they couldn’t get anywhere else? Reframing it in that way can be an effective way to have it too in that regard.

We are talking with Dr. Chris Croner. He owns a company called SalesDrive. We got to get into SalesDrive in a moment, but I appreciate you being here. Let’s talk about the characteristics of these people. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty, the need for achievement, and those types of things. Can you give us a short laundry list of what we should look for?

Starting out, there are those non-teachable elements. We got started many years ago by looking at everything that had been published academically, researching every bit of data in terms of what is it that makes an effective salesperson, then looking at our own work and doing behavioral interviews with sales candidates, circling back with their managers after that to find out who does become successful.

We distill those three non-teachable characteristics. Number one is the need for achievement. It’s that person who wants to do well for the sake of doing well, and who’s constantly focused on exceeding expectations. They are constantly thinking about, “What can I do to surpass what I did last month?” There’s that entrepreneur mindset. Number two is competitiveness. The person who wants to do two things. Number one, they want to be the best in their team. They are always comparing their performance to their peers. They need to know how they stand.

Number two, they want to win that client or that customer over to their point of view. To them, psychologically, that sale is like a contest of wills. The third piece is optimism. It’s the person who is certain that they will succeed. They are resilient when they face the inevitable rejection that a salesperson has to deal with. It’s those three characteristics altogether, need for achievement, competitiveness, and optimism, that psychologically we describe as the perfect storm. Collectively, we refer to those three characteristics as drive.

They play win-win. They don’t just slam bodies into the sales process to get them in there. They look at, “Is this the best thing as well for the client as it is for us in the process?”

If someone is early in their career, they still need help. They still need to know the right things to do. They might not necessarily like training if they're a bit later in their career. Share on X

That’s that need for achievement. We want to make sure that when the salesperson is thinking about, “What am I going to deliver to this client?” They have got that A-player mentality or that A-student mentality with that need for achievement. They know that their reputation is always on the line. Because they know that, that’s the stick as well as the carrot. We got to motivate them.

I can vouch for that because I’m that type of person, where reputation was always important. I would be out there like in one company, I was outselling all nine salespeople in my team combined every single month over and over. I remember my sales manager at the time called me in. His name is David and he said, “Shut the door.” I said, “What’s up?” He goes, “What is wrong with you?” I said, “What do you mean?” He goes, “You never get excited about anything.” I’m like, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Look at your numbers. Look at this team. You are outselling 3 teams of 9 this month combined, and you don’t get excited. What’s the point?”

It was always about the recognition more so than the actual money for me. He kept pressing me. I said, “I will get excited when the check clears because then I can go home to my wife and my children and say, ‘We can do this and that.’ That’s more important to me than having my name touted around this office. I already know that’s happening anyway.” When the CEO of a $300 million company calls you out of the blue and goes, “I appreciate what you are doing,” you already know you’re being talked about. That call from that CEO is as important to me as anything else.

We all like it when we sell something. It’s like a high. It’s natural oxytocin or something. I don’t even know if that happens, but I know that it feels that way that it’s coming through. Those three characteristics are spot-on. It makes a lot of sense to me. You have an assessment. I want to bring that forth for people. Tell people about these assessments because it’s cool.

We have an online assessment called The DriveTest. The purpose of The DriveTest is to identify candidates who have those non-teachable characteristics for hunter salespeople, the ones that need to focus on new account acquisition. We focus on that role simply because, and you probably won’t be surprised, the number one position that most companies have the greatest degree of difficulty hiring for is because candidates can be very skillful at portraying themselves very well in the interview.

That becomes your greatest enemy because the person comes on board and you are left asking, “What happened to the person whom I interviewed? That was the best sale that I ever saw out of them.” We set out to focus on identifying those key characteristics and then designing an assessment to go after them. There are two key differentiators in our assessment. There are many great tests out there. Number one, we are the only assessment that goes after drive, need for achievement, competitiveness, and optimism. It’s literally our patented model. Number two, the assessment is put together a little bit differently than many other tests.

One of the questions we often get is, “How do you derive these characteristics? What do you ask to determine whether someone has these traits? Could you bake that test if you were a candidate?” The other key distinction is we design it so that it’s eliminating faking. Specifically, we have a question format we use called Forced Choice. For each question on The DriveTest, the candidate gets a series of three statements. All of which are worded very positively.

For example, a question may say something like, “I consider myself a great leader. I have strong relationship skills. I’m very motivated.” Which of these is most like you and which one is least like you? As you can imagine, that forces that candidate to make some very difficult distinctions, but then it gives us a much better sense of their real priorities. As they are working their way through the assessment, we are constantly monitoring their consistency as they respond to those questions. As you can imagine, if they do try to fake the test, it’s going to be very difficult for them to remember consistently what they ranked most and least across the entire assessment.

It’s designed to be very robust for you in that regard. We have given over 100,000 assessments. They work with close to 1,400 companies around the world. It’s always our pleasure to be of service, but we measure all those non-teachable characteristics, and then the teachable as well. Confidence, persuasiveness, relationship skills, and organizational skills, we measure all those at the same time.

Let’s talk about interviews. A lot of people rely upon interviews. I will say it for the record. Those resumes are full of lies. I always take a resume and I challenged the person with the resume to drill down into it. I instituted $40 million in sales. It sounds like a big deal. When you start driving into it, it’s like, “Tell me about what you had.” “We had a bunch of people.” “How many people do you have in your division.” “About 40.” “What are they selling on average?” “$1 million.” $1 million times 40 sounds impressive in a year. I then go, “What’s the quota?” “They sold $1 million.” “I got the answer, but what is their quota?” “Around $1.3 million.” “Let me guess, you are under quota, but you are reporting this as a pinnacle of success.”

CSS 62 | Top Performing Salespeople
Top Performing Salespeople: Top performers find that training is meaningless to them because they already have that knowledge they’re mercenary with their time but they’re still going to need some care and feeding.


I’m a big proponent of this because I look at all the statistics, they basically say that about 12%, you can rely upon. If you are hiring off an interview, you are probably going to be right 12% of the time. It significantly goes up when you add the right assessments. There are other assessments. People out there are hiring off of DISC. That’s a personality assessment. That’s not indicative of whether or not they have the drive on they are willing to sell or not. In the 1,400-plus companies, I don’t find interviews very structured most of the time. I find most of them are haphazard and random.

That’s very true. Particularly, when someone is getting started, they are doing the best they can. They are sitting down with that candidate thinking, “How am I going to determine whether this person is going to succeed for me?” They are doing their best to look at the person’s track record as it is presented to them as you indicated, which could be many different ways on the resume which is lying or in many cases, lying.

They will sit down with the person and ask them generic things about what they did on the flight end or at their weekend. They will ask them to sell them a pencil. They are doing the best they can to determine whether this person has these nebulous characteristics like getting the gab and things like this to determine whether they are going to be successful. Whereas we know that the best predictor of future behavior is previous behavior.

During the interview, we want to ask the candidate about behaviors. They have engaged in a network that reflects the characteristics that we would like for them to show for us going forward. For example, when we identify that drive is an important characteristic, we want somebody who’s going to be a successful hunter. We want to look at the three elements of drive, starting out with the need for achievement.

One of my favorite questions to ask is, “Tell me about the greatest goal you’ve ever accomplished professionally.” Have the person describe it and flesh it out for you, then you can stop and reflect back to that person. You’ve got to be proud of that. How do you tend to the topic? The person high need for achievement has a plan for a topic, and they are excited about the opportunity to tell you about it. What kinds of sacrifices have you had to make to be successful? What does that person consider to be a sacrifice? Was it maybe they have to work a couple of weekends last year or was it something more substantial? Now compare that to the kinds of sacrifices you’ve seen your top performers have to make over time.

We’re looking at those behavioral questions and looking at the things that a person has consistently done in the past that reflected the characteristics that we would like for them to show for us going forward. We will then review their resume with them. There are certain techniques that we can use to make sure that we are getting the truth out of that resume. I’m happy to share those as well.

That’s an excellent set of questions. If you have structured questions in an interview, not you but your clients have a structured interview, now you can point score these things. A lot of people don’t do that. They will lead score a lead, but they won’t lead score their kid. It’s like, “What?” Those questions are awesome too. Let’s say they could be 1 or 2 like, “I did this and that.” You can almost assume they lack empathy because they are not willing to open up and talk about these things.

There are different things that will come out of this. I’m going to plug your book again. It’s called Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again. It’s by Dr. Christopher Croner, second edition. If you can read it, I got the thing here. Go out and get this book. Check it out. It’s a good book. How do they take the test? Where is it?

It’s SalesDrive.info, and there’s a big red button on the upper right-hand side for a sample assessment. We are delighted to provide a complimentary assessment to your audience that has a company and wants to test it out. It’s our pleasure to be of service.

It’s a complimentary thing which means free. You heard it here on the show. We are talking with Dr. Christopher Croner. He owns a company called SalesDrive. It’s a great conversation. In your book, when I first opened it up, it had something that said, “Five steps to hiring top salespeople.” It was right there. People ask me all the time, “Where do I start?” Whether I’m a seasoned company and I’m not doing it the way I want to do it. I want to do it better or I’m new at this. “Where do I start?” What would you tell them?

The best predictor of future behavior is previous behavior. Share on X

It all comes down to looking at your sourcing. Sourcing is so important and it’s an element that most people don’t think about. How do we find candidates? What characteristics do we look for in a resume or a LinkedIn profile? At the same time, when we are looking at candidates who are coming to us, how do we write our job ads to make sure that it’s reflecting high drive? What words can be used?

We talk about that in the book. How do you put together a job? How do you source candidates at the very top of that funnel? What can you look for? For example, when it comes to something like a resume or a LinkedIn profile, there are many characteristics that you can find in those types of sources that can indicate the person has a high potential drive.

We have had some clients who almost every single candidate they assess when they purchase an assessment is high in the drive. We asked and interviewed them, “What are you looking for? What’s so consistently predicting those high drive scores?” They said that they looked for three different things in a candidate. Number one, they look for the person who’s more of a passive candidate than an active candidate. The person has been actively out there looking in the world of sales for a while. There can be a good reason for it. Number two, they look for the person that is not a job hopper. They have some longevity in the positions they held. Number three, they look at the person that has been able to provide some metrics to show that they have been successful previously.

They find those three things together. It’s not a perfect correlation. They do tend to predict higher overall drive scores. A company might ask, for example, “I’m a younger company. I need somebody who’s going to start to hit the ground and running and start producing relatively quickly. What should I look for in that regard?”

At that point, looking for a person that has a track record, not just at a large company, can be very tempting. We often see a candidate with a track record at a very large company and the thought is, “This person has done very well with this very large company.” Surely, they are going to bring that same degree of success to us. Surely, they must have had world-class sales training.”

The key question in that regard for us, is what led to that person’s success? Was it throwing effort or was it the fact that they have brand recognition and collateral material? They were opening the doors for them. Finding the person that has had 2 to 3 years of relevant and previous experience at a similarly sized company, as well as an overall drive score of a 4 or 5 on the assessment does strongly tend to predict the person has the knowledge to succeed, and they have the passion to execute on that knowledge.

What about somebody that doesn’t have the sales knowledge. They are new, but we are looking at bringing them into the company. A lot of people think that a predictor of success is industry experience. In some cases, it’s true. In many cases, I found it not really to be. When we are looking at somebody who’s brand new and they want to get into sales, how does somebody approach this in the capacity of saying, “I got these fifteen people here. None of them has sales experience, but I want to find out, do they have these characteristics?”

The first step is the assessment. Some clients will take a subscription to the SalesDrive assessment and they will use it at job fairs for kids out of school. They may not have even thought about going into a career in sales, but they will have those indicators, those three non-teachable indicators. Now we can bring that person into the interview and begin to look into those.

Many behavioral questions will, in many cases, rely upon the person having previous sales experience, but there are other ones that you can ask that don’t require sales experience at all. For example, if you want to look for a person who’s persuasive. “Tell me about what’s helpful to you to get somebody to change their mind if you will?” If someone tells you at that point, “What’s helpful to me to get someone to change their mind is I like to give them all the facts. When I give them all the facts, surely, they will make the right decision at that point.”

Whereas someone who says, “What’s important to me to get someone to change their mind is to find out what’s most important to that person, and structure my argument around what’s most important to them.” That indicates the person has that natural persuasive ability. Keep in mind that we can teach that.

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Top Performing Salespeople: Top performers are still going to need to be managed correctly to be successful.


For need for achievement, competitiveness and optimism, the non-teachable side. For something like optimism, “Tell me about a time when you remained persistent at work or in school, even though everyone else around you gave up. Tell me about that time.” When you are asking for someone who’s going to be effective as a hunter, you’re looking for the person that is going to be able to go out, whether that’s over the phone, inside sales or outside sales.

They knock on the door. Sometimes get the door slammed in their face. They are going to that next door with more certainty, passion and conviction. When we think about it psychologically, that’s a very special person that we are talking about. It’s all about asking the right series of questions about that person’s level of experience to bear those characteristics out.

We are looking to hire for a profile and if the experience is there, then it’s a plus. Potentially, we have got to test that too. I remember one guy we hired one time. He was fantastic. He was a bungee jumper. That was his big thing. When I first was thinking about this, I was like, “That takes courage or craziness.” I’m not sure. You get up on the side of a bridge and off you go. It takes courage.

When I started looking deeper and deeper, I wrote down some characteristics. He was the president of the chess club. He was the valedictorian of his class. He had a fourth-degree black belt in Aikido. He won so many performance awards for music and things like that. A lot of people would dismiss that guy because they would be like, “He has no sales experience.”

What we are talking about is that’s a guy you probably want to assess and figure out whether or not that person has the ability to be a top performer in sales. What I know from training people in sales for multiple decades now is I have taken CPAs who have no sales experience whatsoever and turned them into top producers because they had this profile.

When you get people who have backgrounds that are very eclectic, you gave a great example. You are talking about somebody that is seeking out new sensations. They very much enjoys accomplishment and achievement. Bringing that person like that on board that has those motivators is wonderful, but set expectations. The person is going to need some sales 101. It’s setting the proper expectations in terms of when that person is going to be successful.

If I had the opportunity and I had the opportunity to train someone over time, I would much rather bring somebody in like that than someone who has sometimes 30 years of sales experience but lacks the drive or the person who can sell but won’t do it. Maybe they can, but will they? That’s the key distinction. I would much rather have somebody that will do it and has that desire to do well for its own sake. I can give them that information and they will take that to the next level on their own than the person that maybe has a world of experience, but won’t do it. They’re satisfied and they’re looking to retire from the job.

That’s a key critical component. I remember I had a client that was on a major news network. I can’t say their name because I was under nondisclosure, but I can say they have three letters and they are usually on channels 4, 5 or 7. I will leave it at that. That’s what was happening. They had a sales team there and those people have been there for 30 years. They could not figure out what was going on. They cannot get production any higher than it is, whatsoever. As you said at the beginning of this thing, they reached their saturation point. They are all near the end of their career. They are trying to sell as they did back in 1970, and now the game has changed.

People are still people, but the communication modes are much different than they were in the past. What we ended up doing is exactly what you said. We ended up looking at and assessing the drive of these people. We’re assessing all of these things across the board. We realized that about 70% of the team couldn’t stay, then we could hire a younger people. Not that it has to be younger, they could be older. We can hire new people and we can bring them in with the right profile. When we do, they started to make more sales. It’s that simple. The reason I bring that up is because it’s a testament to everything you are saying. This stuff works.

It’s amazing because when you ask someone what leads somebody to be successful in sales, they are going to say all the classic things. The person who likes to persuade or who likes people and things of that nature. They don’t think about those non-teachable pieces, particularly, that need for achievement or that quiet drive.

You can teach someone to be perceptive or to listen effectively. Emotional intelligence is something that is teachable. Share on X

Many companies will say, “What I’m looking for in a candidate is somebody with a great athletic background in college. That’s going to be my key indicator. In many cases, that can be a great indicator of competitiveness. The key question is what led them to be successful in terms of their athletics. Was it their own effort? Was the coach waking them up every morning at 6:00 AM or were they up there on their own before the rest of the team, practicing?

Sometimes you are better off getting that person who was in the back of the cafe peeling potatoes, working their way through college with that mentality than somebody who was an athlete in and of itself. “We are looking for the person who was the president of the fraternity or the sorority.” That’s great, but I want you to determine what led to that behavior. What was underneath that, which was part of the person? That’s why we go after those non-teachable.

It makes so much sense because if their father was the head coach and he kept rousting him or her out of bed every single morning to go to that particular sport, they happened to excel because of positioning and some capacity, and they were good athletes. They don’t have that drive within them. The same thing in sales. If you hire somebody like that in sales, you are going to be rousting them out of bed every single morning.

Sales is different from any other position. Psychologically, it’s different. It requires a special type of person. That person is going to be able to handle that rejection and then with more certainty and energy, knock on that next door, nor does their position require that you need to add an assessment to the process that goes after those non-teachable.

Piggybacking on that. I can tell people when you said the need for achievement. If somebody doesn’t have the need for achievement, you can almost guarantee that they are not going to close any situations that could have been closed even if it’s a win-win play. Their empathy will be so high and their lack of need for achievement will be so low that they are going to walk away from a sale.

I remember this happened. A company asked me to look for their sales team and it was a real estate company. We were shadowing the real estate and I’m standing there, and this husband and wife were going back and forth. It’s a $4 million-plus house. She’s going, “I love this house. This is amazing. The little ones can be here. We have the pool out here. We can do this.” He goes, “That’s $4 million-plus.”

They could afford it. The numbers were there. It was easy. She says something like, “The kids are older now. I can go back to the law firm and I can get a job and I can take some of the pressure off you. What do you think?” He goes, “That’s a great idea, but it’s a lot of money.” They go back and forth a few times. She says, “Just think I will be happy if we’ll be here.” He goes. “I really think we would be happy here. I’m just not sure.”

Sure as heck, the real estate agent says this, “You guys probably ought to take some time to think this over because this is an important decision. It’s a lifetime commitment to what you are doing on this property. If you are not sure, why don’t you take some time? Think it over. Get back to me in a couple of days.”

They didn’t get back to her in a couple of days. She goes, “What did you guys think?” “We decided not to take the house.” “Okay. I will show you some new houses.” “No, we don’t need to.” “What do you mean?” “Do you know the house that’s two blocks around the corner that’s $5.3 million? We purchased it.” As soon as I heard her say, “Take some time,” I want to honestly kick her in the leg. It was like, “Stop.” She doesn’t have that need for achievement like what you are talking about. She lets them go even when this house was perfect for them.

We think about that behavior and that distinction between people who are successful and not or salespeople who are successful and those that are not. Those behaviors during the call, you can teach those. You can teach someone to be perceptive. You can teach someone to listen effectively. You can teach someone to have that emotional intelligence versus IQ. Emotional intelligence is something that is teachable. When they do have that need for achievement, they are like a sponge.

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Top Performing Salespeople: We need to be ready for those salespeople that have that need for achievement and have that competitiveness. They’re certain they’re going to succeed. They’re optimistic and resilient.


If they are on their first call and they make those mistakes, those mistakes will haunt them. They will want to do better. They will use that as an example to compel themselves to learn more and do better. If the person is low in need of achievement and makes those mistakes, “Let’s go on to the next one. It’s not as big of a deal.”

When you find that person that wants to get an A, that’s the key. I want to see that person that is great in that situation, but they are haunted by it. They want to do better. They are going to use that example. It’s going to bother them until they figure out, “What should I have done? Let’s replay that now. How can I make an adjustment on the next call?”

When I study martial arts, I was around a lot of people of Asian descent. They used to tell me that an A-minus is not acceptable. I used to ask them and I say, “Why?” They said, “Our parents held us to a very high standard.” Every once in a while, it was that person that an A is not acceptable, the A-plus is only acceptable. That’s the type of character that we are looking for because the parents aren’t driving them at that point. They are driving themselves to be at the top of the top.

Past the age of about 21 and 22, that’s when it’s relatively solidified. Find that person when you have the opportunity. If you are looking for people that don’t necessarily have sales experience and you find that person that has that need for achievement, and add that to competitiveness and optimism, that’s the person that runs through walls for you. Make sure you give them that training.

Chris, I appreciate you being here. Is there anything you were hoping like, “I hope, Doug asked me this question,” and I didn’t? We could cover it now or did I get them all?

You hit the major ones. When we talked about a resume and that people can sometimes lie in their resumes, is there anything that we can do when reviewing a resume with that person to get the truth, and to understand more about their psychology? You can go into every accomplishment that they list. One of the things that’s most interesting sometimes on a resume is what it shows us about that person’s decision-making style.

When they are out there working for us as a salesperson, we have to make sure that they are prioritizing their day effectively, for example. Understand what’s making them tick. What I will recommend doing as they are reviewing a resume with a candidate is asking that candidate three questions for each position they have held.

Number one, give me the basic job description. What did you do in that role? Number two, if you were on a sales team, where did you rank on the team? The competitive person will know exactly where they ranked. Number three, what caused you to move on to the next position? What got you to make that change to that next role?

People tend to embellish a little bit on resumes as they are describing them. I’m sure you’ve heard this over the years. People will give you answers that we might consider to be guarded answers. Things like, “There were some misunderstandings with my supervisor. There were some differences of opinion concerning my salary,” or things like that. If you start to hear those guarded answers, one of the most powerful techniques you can use is what we talk about in the book, the magic wand question.

If we had a magic wand and we could change three things about that job, so you would have never wanted to leave, what would those three things be? That’s when you start to get a kernel of the truth. “My assistant wants to quit. I would have gotten paid more. I wouldn’t be yelled at by the sales VP.” They give you something you can start to dig on. At that point, the key is to find out whether there are other examples of that behavior emerging again in the past. The more consistent example of behavior like that we can find in the past, the more reliably we can predict that it will emerge for us going forward. That magic wand question takes a potentially very difficult question. It reframes it in a very positive way. It will allow you to get much more of the straight story behind that candidate.

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Top Performing Salespeople: Setting reasonable expectations is really important during the interview process. You have to make sure that the candidate is well aware of all the challenges the company has.


For those of you who didn’t hear what he just said, dig in on these things because here’s the thing. This assessment is accurate. What you teach is so spot-on because if somebody says, “I left because it wasn’t the right fit,” or whatever. Was it them or it wasn’t the right fit? As you are teaching people, dig in because if you don’t dig in, they could come to your organization and be disruptive just like they were to that previous organization. They may have got fired and they will spin it in that interview. What you are saying is so spot on. Thank you for bringing it forward.

Chris, thanks for being on the show. I appreciate it. Once again, I’m going to recommend you to go out and get Dr. Christopher Croner’s book. It’s called Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again. Stop by at SalesDrive and check it out. Do your complimentary assessment. You’ll probably learn some stuff about yourself and certainly people in your organization. That’s for sure. Chris, thanks again for being here.

Thank you so much, Doug. It’s a pleasure to be of service. Thank you.

That was full of a lot of wonderful stuff. Here’s the thing. If you are going to hire top A producers, you’ve got to be a top A producing company. What does that mean? You’ve got to set yourself up. You got to let people know. If you have deficiencies, they want to know, but you’ve got to have training. You’ve got to have onboarding. You got to have all these things. Don’t expect that top producers are going to come in there and make this up. They will make it up, but it may not be in alignment with what you want for your company.

More likely, about 7 out of 10 of them are going to walk out the door within the first 30 to 60 days, therefore you are going to have a high cost of turnover. It is expensive to hire these types of people. It’s expensive to hire anyone, so make sure that you are doing this in the arena, in the area, and in the structure that is laid out in Chris’s book or any teachings that I have given you as well.

If you like this type of content, you want to hear more of this, or you want to hear different types of content, reach out to me at Doug@CEOSalesStrategies.com. Let me know what you want specifically. We may already have the talent in a queue or we may have to source that talent, but I will be happy to do that. If you like this show, give it a five-star review. Subscribe to it if you haven’t already and share it with your friends. The more you do that, the more the show grows. The more people get help.

When it comes to hiring people, make sure you are using assessments. If you don’t use assessments, the probability of success will be lower. Use the right sales-specific assessments, not personality assessments. Interviews and resumes can be embellished and faked. If you are just relying upon those alone, you are probably going to have a low probability of success. Statistics show about 12% probability, especially if you don’t have a structured interview.

That’s it. If you want help in getting people at the top 1% of sales globally, reach out to me. I’m the guy who can help you. If you want help in growing your revenue and getting your company in order, reach out. I’m the guy who can help you. Thanking you for being here. My email is Doug@CEOSalesStrategies.com. LinkedIn is DougBrown123. The phone number of the company is (603) 595-0303. Go out. Sell a lot of stuff. Sell it profitably. Make someone happy and be happy yourself. To your success.


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