Many salespeople are not sales wolves - they are imposters

Why Your Top Salespeople Aren’t

by Chris Young


Waiting for the rest? You are probably filling in all the things your top salespeople “aren’t,” assuming that they must be the rest of the title.

Most “top” salespeople really aren’t top at all. They may be recognized by your company as its best, but the best in your company may be mediocre relative to your competitor’s best talent or your industry.

Let that sink in.

The hard truth.

Many salespeople are not sales wolves - they are impostersIt is infrequent that a company’s “top salespeople” are truly Sales Wolves. The existence of Sales Wolves on a sales team occurs either due to luck (this is rare) or by design, where the CEO, sales management, and HR are on the very same page with regard to only selecting and hiring Sales Wolves and Sales Wolf Managers.

Like seeks like. We are relationship-seeking creatures. We build tribes. Tribes win and lose together building powerful bonds. Tribes protect their members – weak and strong alike. In many sales teams, weaker sales team members often do not fully pay for themselves. The deficit is made up by top performers or true Sales Wolves. Low-performing salespeople become a drag on the overall performance of the company and they weaken their competitive positioning and make it possible for competitors to enter the marketplace and drink their milkshake.

You are probably hiring for the wrong reasons.

Many sales managers, HR, or whoever is doing your hiring are complicit, going on their gut to hire salespeople.

They are doing it wrong.

Most sales hiring processes are rife with human bias with little to no objective data gathering to be compared to future sales performance. Most organizations are incapable of hiring true Sales Wolves because they are unable to recognize the proper traits and personalities necessary to be a Sales Wolf.

There are two areas where sales managers and executives are incapable of hiring or nurturing Sales Wolves:

Selection / Hiring

Studies have clearly demonstrated that human beings are biased from many perspectives. This is a psychological fact that is without dispute.

Human bias consistently leads to inconsistent sales hiring outcomes. Objective data is missing because many sales hiring processes do not incorporate a sales hiring scorecard (data) with sales personality testing (more data). Having a sales hiring scorecard is not enough. A sales hiring scorecard must be accompanied with proper training on how to implement complete with a centralized scoring mechanism to ensure that each is measured and scored similarly.

The ego problem.

So many involved in traditional sales hiring, whether it is HR or sales management, seem to have a God complex. These folks are often drunk with power. They “know sales talent when they see it” despite being afflicted by human bias. They often refuse to seek enhanced strategies to improve their sales hiring outcomes. Many are guardians of the status quo because making any changes to their current sales hiring strategies is to admit weakness and the ego hates weakness.

These folks talk about their best hires who are really top performers in the company but not true Sales Wolves. As a result, they are incorrectly revered for their sales talent prowess. They have no way of understanding how their sales candidates quantitatively stack up from an objective talent perspective. They do not fully grasp the mediocrity of the sales talent they are instrumental in hiring nor do they grasp the potential of the sales talent that interviewed poorly who subsequently went to a competitor and slayed.  

The interview process is flawed. Most sales interviews are not structured. And it often seems future low performers ace the interview and fail to deliver while sometimes future Sales Wolves bomb and get weeded out. To make matters worse, it is common to have non-Sales Wolves interviewing candidates who are put off by true Sales Wolves who are rejected early in the sales hiring process. True Sales Wolves, particularly the hunter variety can be disconcerting to be around for those who do not appreciate their sales personality and mindset.

Sales recruiter settling Stop settling in your sales recruitment efforts.Settling for the best they can find.

All too often we see sales hiring that hires the best of the final three of the best identified candidates when the proper sales selection strategy is to hire only those who meet every single one of the sales hiring scorecard standards (background, education, experience, interview and sales personality fit).

Lack of recruitment effort.

The best sales candidates are not actively looking for new sales roles. These sales candidates are only found through competent sales recruitment efforts. Most companies put an ad or two or three out on the internet hoping candidates who are dissatisfied with their current roles will find their ads and apply. This is severely limiting in terms of quality of candidates.

Lack of accountability.

Few HR teams or sales hiring managers are held to an accountability standard of selecting only the best-of-the-best salespeople. This lack of accountability for raising the bar on a consistent basis is a hidden drag on the sales performance of countless companies.

  Current Sales Team

Complacency often sets in after salespeople are hired -- within the company and the salespeople. The bar is set so low in many organizations, the barometer of success is woefully underwhelming.

When Sales Wolves are on teams like this, they are not in their element. The result is often either apathy and a total lack of effort (wasted opportunity) or they leave for your competitors.

Identifying Sales Wolves on your team and nurturing them properly is essential, yet most sales managers fail to recognize when Sales Wolves are present on their team, let alone properly nurture them.

Sales managers that lack the acumen, experience and personality of a Sales Wolf.

True Sales Wolf Managers develop a keen sense for recognizing true Sales Wolves as they work with them. They share tactics and strategies that help elevate Sales Wolves to even greater performance. These tactics and strategies are rarely successful with non-Sales Wolves as it takes a particular acumen / sales personality combination to properly exploit. Few sales managers are true Sales Wolf Managers. Non Sales Wolf Managers are unable to drive the sales performance of Sales Wolves to the fullest extent possible because they lack the applied experience only a Sales Wolf Mindset can develop.

Territory / vertical / account bias clouds the view.

In some sales environments (like inside sales), it is easy to compare the sale performance of each salesperson. In others, there can be significant sales performance spreads between two identically-qualified salespeople that are explained by the richness of one territory or vertical relative to another. Naturally territory and vertical market differences are difficult to quantify.

Favoritism and nepotism destroy salesRelationships (friendships, favoritism and nepotism) get in the way.

We often see deep relationships that are rich in many good aspects, but can be a hidden time bomb in a sales team. Friendships, favoritism, and nepotism relationships can create significant human bias and accountability deficiencies that can imperil a company, leading to its decimation by competition with stronger sales teams.  

Poor morale / mojo loss.

True Sales Wolves are human beings with emotions. They lose their mojo from time to time, sometimes for long stretches. This is often the case when a Sales Wolf feels unfairly treated or mistreated by management. Perceived or real injustices often take the wind out of the sails of Sales Wolves. In fact, many go into a downward spiral and get the blame when they are cut from the sales team. This blame really should be on the shoulders of sales managers. Unfortunately, this is rarely the situation.

You cannot mold what God created.

You cannot mold salespeople’s Behavioral Styles nor their Driving Forces to drive sales. No one can change a person’s sales personality. If you are not hiring the right salespeople, you will never be able to “make” them become Sales Wolves. Instead, you will get parrots.

But all is not lost.

While it is impossible to change the sales personality of a human being, it is possible to take a salesperson with the requisite sales personality traits and help them gain the onboarding, coaching, and experience necessary to become a true Sales Wolf.

Let me be clear.

If a salesperson lacks the proper sales personality, it is extremely unlikely they will ever become a true Sales Wolf.

If a salesperson lacks the experience and training yet possesses the sales personality to be a Sales Wolf, they could eventually become a true Sales Wolf.  

It takes a true Sales Wolf Manager to help Sales Wolves reach their full potential. If your salespeople (and sales managers) aren’t...

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