If you’ve ever had to hire salespeople for your team, you may have come across this conundrum:
You meet a candidate who is a charismatic and engaging “talker.” He brings a successful track record with him from his previous sales role, so you hire him with great expectations. Once he joins your team he’s not as successful as before and he just can’t produce.
What went wrong here?
Working in recruitment for over a decade and a half, we can tell you, the gentleman noted above didn’t run out of a random windfall of luck. High-performing sales people are often lucky, but we have found that they work hard to earn that luck consistently.
It goes back to those old sayings, “You have to be good to be lucky, and lucky to be good,” or “You make your own luck.”
Marketing professor at the University of Houston C.T. Bauer College of Business, Joël Le Bon, recently discussed his research around he notion of “provoked luck” in the Harvard Business Review. His conclusion, which we believe is right on, is that great salespeople provoke their luck. They put themselves into the right circumstances to get lucky, consistently. He identified a series of teachable sales behaviours that can set the stage for improved luck.
In our own recruitment practice, we look for many of these same attributes in candidates when filling key sales roles for our clients. So, here’s our list on how to hire lucky sales people – and make sure they stay lucky!
1. Lucky salespeople don’t rely on luck. Look for candidates who have a history of proactively doing their homework to gather intel on their customers, prospects and competitors. You want people who make it their business to be well versed in their market.
2. Lucky salespeople stay alert so they can identify unexpected opportunities. Ask your candidates how they listen to and absorb what their customers are saying. High-performing sales people can articulate insights they’ve gleamed from their experience over the years.
3. Lucky salespeople set their own goals and aim high. Look for candidates that are ambitious by nature. The best sales people yearn to surpass their own performance – and are driven to constantly bettering their best.
4. Lucky salespeople don’t see failure as failure. Rather, they see failure as getting them one step closer to success. As Professor Le Bon puts it: they “fail” better, because they remain positive even in the face of failure.
5. Lucky salespeople are mentally disciplined. They are self-driven and don’t need directive people standing over them, managing their performance. The best candidates for sales roles take charge of both their luck and their subsequent performance.
6. Lucky sales people are natural networkers. They not only build relationships with people around them in their social networks, but they strive to get to know people outside of those perimeters to increase their sales potential. So ask your candidate how he or she builds a business network.
While great salespeople don’t rely on luck to be successful, they do have the right mindset, in that they believe they are lucky. They connect that luck to hard work though, and as a result, they see that they often naturally attract luck.