What Makes a Good Business Development Manager (Salesperson)?

At a client breakfast meeting the other day, we were told how challenging it was to recruit successful sales people.  The client explained that they had hired experienced sales people in the past who had not performed well; they then said that they tried training staff in product knowledge and consultative sales approach with no real success.  Are great sales people born or are they developed over time?  The answer is both.

We often provide recruitment advice and services to our clients and firmly believe from our experience that to succeed in this challenging area the organisation needs to look first for attitude, second for talent and then third for ability to learn and implement business development techniques.  All three are necessary for success.

1.  Attitudes for achievement that we interview for are: Self-esteem, Personal responsibility, Realistic Optimism, Anticipation/imagination, Self-awareness, Creativity, Two-way communication, Continual learning, Constructive Pressure Response, Sense of Urgency and Goal Directed (rather than goal-oriented).

2.  Talents are a mix of spontaneous, inherent, and recurring patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviours that when developed create natural strengths for success.  In a Business Development role or Sales position, the talents of top performers have been well researched.  If the candidate passes the Attitude assessment, then we investigate their natural talents for the five areas: Commitment Seeking, Self-motivation, Consultative Selling, Direction/Focus and Relationship development.

Irrelevant of past sales experience, if the candidate does not have both the right attitude and enough natural talent, we would recommend that they not be hired.

3.  If they are recommended, then we hire them with the caveat that their response to training and development will be the key to them completing their probation.  The five critical sales skills we initially focus upon are Managing the buyer/seller relationship, Sales call planning, Questioning/Listening skills, Solution presentation, and Gaining Commitment.  Through a process of explaining, practicing, partnering and then implementing and de-briefing, we identify if the candidate has the capacity to learn and implement customer-focused solution selling approaches.  This training and development involves their direct manager both internally and in client meetings.  Even sales people with a positive attitude and great potential can fail at this stage; probation is the second half of the interview.

Do you find the recruitment of top performing business development managers or sales people challenging? 

Are you hiring for attitude and talent or past experience? 

Does your organisation provide high quality training and development for the sales team which can be measured beyond “dollars”?

Recruiting and retaining high quality business development staff is not difficult, yet it requires specific interview screening techniques as well as on-the-job development and assessment.  With these in place or supported by external providers, top sales teams are created and organisations prosper as client relationships are developed and maintained.

Can we help you or your team with any of these recruitment or initial development areas?


Further Reading

Solution Selling