When I was 26 I took a sales aptitude test. It told me that I was the perfect candidate for sales. The administrator told me that I scored so perfectly that he was either really excited to hire me, or I was a crazy person. I’d like to think that I’m not too crazy. Last week I took a sales aptitude test. I have never had a better closing ratio then I do now and I have never been more effective with my sales, but the test told me to stay in management.

There are plenty of tests that show what the perfect candidate is or is not. I believe that after 13 years in sales and also in management I have become better in some areas and a little more refined others. I hate to admit it, but when I was 26 I “accidentally” tripped someone I love to win a silly competition. I hope I have matured a bit since then, but unfortunately many sales tests just want to see if you will run through a wall and sell your mother to make the sale. I am not willing to do that, but I am still quite effective at sales.

A recent study found that most top sales performers score similarly in five key areas:

  1. Ambition and Drive
  2. Control of the Close
  3. Relationship Effectiveness
  4. Process Orientation
  5. Problem Solving

Of the 5 measurable factors of the many that are out there, can you guess which one the top performers had in abundance?¬† I hope you said Ambition and Drive. Let’s look at that list again and see how top performers scored with each one:

  1. Ambition and Drive – 83 on a scale of 100 – Sales is not a one and done kind of profession. You must be driven and you must be able to get past the rejections and negativity you will see each day. If you can work on anything, improve your ambition.
  2. Control of the Close – 75 on a scale of 100 – If you can’t close, you are toast. Learn to close with integrity and not force. Understand the needs and pains of your prospect and you will close better. That means you have to listen more than you talk to close effectively.
  3. Relationship Effectiveness – 46 on a scale of 100 – Surprisingly to many people, having a close relationship with a prospect is not a big deal to most top performers. That does not mean that closing the deal at any cost is acceptable to them, but it also means that they don’t have to go fishing with them on the weekends either. You can still understand your prospects’ needs without having to know what their favorite color is.
  4. Process Orientation – 25 on a scale of 100 – Good luck getting a good salesperson to do paperwork. I get a kick out of micromanaging bosses that get angry when their top salespeople won’t fill out a million reports. Some process is necessary, but if your sales team is really kicking tail out there, hire them an assistant to do their paperwork. Nothing makes a salesperson madder than endless paperwork and meetings.
  5. Problem Solving – 57 on a scale of 100 – Sales people sell. When salespeople aren’t selling, they should be selling. You should analyze their results to see what the ideal client profile is. Have a sales process to teach your new people the ropes. Give your top people packaged products to sell. Don’t expect them to be figuring out how to solve the marriage problems of their prospects.

Sales makes or breaks so many companies. Having the processes and understanding of sales and salespeople can make all the difference in the world to how much your team makes. Find the right people. Bundle the right products. Make them be accountable without overkill on paper work. Demand performance and understand the sales cycle. If you are the CEO or President and sales are slow, get out in the field and make some sales. Your company depends on it.