Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guest Blogger: Kevin Shaffer – Identifying Exceptional Sales People; Separating Dabblers from the Disciplined

As the Director of Sales for an International Human Resources Consulting Firm, I've learned that sales people fall into two categories - Group A and Group B. If you're a salesperson, which category do you fall in to? If you're an employer, which category do your employees fall in to?

“Group A” are the people that get it and are disciplined and fully engaged. These people have very specific traits:

Group A - Disciplined

· They plan everything in advance and don’t assume anything

· They organize their day to achieve maximum outcomes

· They look to maximize every moment during peak business hours

· They always ask better questions, they listen and they know when to stop talking – no exceptions

These people tend to command attention when they enter a room. They are effortlessly engaging and they make you feel good about them and they even make you feel good about you. They follow the system and are money driven, but they understand work hard and focus pays off. They don’t chase money, it simply comes in.

Then you have “Group B”. These people would most likely get out of sales as soon as they get the chance. They got into sales because they thought the money was something they deserved, but once given the chance to sell they realized they do not have what it takes. These people tend to have the following traits:

Group B - Dabbling

· They never have a plan and seem to perform sales tasks for appearances sake, everything is a chore

· They are looking for every outside variable to blame for less than exceptional, mediocre performance

· These sales people want a better territory, better delivery times, better products, lower prices, more marketing, more training, better admin staff, accounting hates them, their computer never works, and on, and on, and on. Simply put, they are typically in the squeaky wheel club and functioning at 50%.

Stop for a moment. Think. Do you know anyone in Group A? Group B? If you took the people you know from both groups and put them in a room, could your direct report successfully put those people in the right group? Be careful, even weak sales people can sell themselves well. So, how do you find these “Group A” sales people?

It’s simple. First, you need to take your time and ignore your gut feeling. Performers perform and they know it. As a result, they are ready to share their accomplishments and they usually have documentation to support their claims of greatness. Here is the most important part… and it’s quite simple also. Listen. Listen to what is happening in the interview. If they are doing all the talking, let them walk away, I don’t care how good they are. If you are doing all the talking, get excited because you may have a star sitting in front of you. If you are doing all the taking and enjoying the conversation, you need to realize what is you have. Excellent sales people ask great questions and are exceptional listeners. They don’t waste your time with conjecture you don’t care to hear. If you reach this point, do any assessments you have or behavior trait measuring. This person is worth it.

Kevin Shaffer is the Director of National Sales for Kushner & Company, an International Human Resources Consulting Firm and Benefits Administration company located in Portage, Michigan. Kevin has trained, managed and strategically influenced sales teams for local companies resulting in millions of dollars in additional revenue. He has served as Board President in the not for profit arena and has had extensive experience working directly with sales professionals and executive management teams. Kevin was a key contributor in designing the territory management concept “Areas of Concentration”, and has also been a key contributor in designing and implementing “” specifications and workflow solutions for multiple organizations. If you'd like to speak with Kevin about this article, or any of his contributions and sales concepts, please e-mail him at

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