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Employment Strategy Corner: Finding and developing persistence in your sales force

While this quality is one that is desirable for all of your employees to have, there is one position in your organization where it’s key — and that’s sales. I’m talking about persistence. Sounds like a goodie-goodie type platitude, doesn’t it? But believe me, persistence really does pay off in sales, big time. Without it, sales results will be mediocre at best.

Over the years, sales theories and strategies have come and gone, but most have featured persistence as key. Now, I’m told, some of the popular sales methodologies taught do not incorporate persistence into their curriculum. And while I am a fan of more sophisticated and consultative sales methodologies, I think that persistence in sales is still what separates the successful salespeople from the mediocre ones.

So if you’re in agreement, just how can you find out whether your staff salesman, or that salesperson you’re about to hire has that valuable ingredient? Here are four suggestions:

  • Ratio of cold calls to appointments—Your salesman or candidate must be firmly dedicated to making a definite number of cold calls per day. In the interview, get a clear picture of this phone activity. It is important to determine how many cold calls your salesman or prospective salesperson makes in order to get an appointment with the hiring authority. Find out how many times he calls a prospect before he moves on. If he makes only two or three calls per prospect, you could be hiring someone who’s going to blow through lots of valuable leads to get his sales results.
  • Length of the sales cycle— Ask your candidate to give you an example of the shortest time, and the longest time, it’s taken him to make a sale. Get an idea of the activity in between first call and wrapping up the deal. If it’s a large deal and a long sales cycle, watch for indications of how persistent your candidate was in the situation.
  • Ask for an example of persistence— That’s right; just ask! Tell your salesman or candidate that persistence is a virtue you look for in a salesperson and ask him/her for an example where persistence paid off. If he has to think longer than two seconds, he may not have a good example.
  • Watch what he does during the hiring process— Good candidates know that finding a new job has the same dynamics as making a sale. Good candidates ask what the next step is and get one. They follow up. They are persistent. Watch for this persistence in your own dealings with them. If they call you a day or two after the interview, that’s a good sign. If you tell him you’ll get back to him in a timely manner and you don’t, he should be almost hounding you for a next step.

See you here next month for our article: Reference Checks – Five steps to make sure who you see is who you get

Philip Kemper is Founder/President of Kemper Associates, a 34 year old Chicago-based national executive search firm, specializing in Permanent and Contract staffing for Trade Shows and Exhibits, Staging and Equipment Rental, Business Meetings and Events Production, Video, Training and Incentives and more .His more complete bio is on LinkedIn at: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/philip-kemper/2/795/308/ . You may view Kemper Associates’ web site at: www.Kemperassociates.net , and contact Phil with questions or comments, and employment needs at: Kemperassoc@hotmail.com, or his private phone line: (312) 944-6551.


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