We work hard helping clients hire entry level salespeople. Our goal is to teach them a process that improves talent acquisition effectiveness using the #1 rated Objective Management Group Sales Assessments. Doing so, we’ve noticed far more candidates are not recommended for entry level positions than those not recommended for more experienced sales positions. So, I decided to do some analysis into why.

Drilling down the data

The OMG Assessments employs numerous components to provide an 95% confidence-level prediction of a sales candidate’s potential success. Over a million salespeople have taken the OMG Assessments and we have access to data on over 380,000 of them. I narrowed this data down to just North American salespeople with one year or less of sales experience, leaving a substantial pool of 34,882 people for my analysis.

Categorizing the data

 

OMG places individuals in four different buckets based on their Selling Competencies, Sales DNA Competencies, Will to Sell, their strengths that support selling, and weaknesses that hinder success. The four categories are broken down in the infographic above.

The few number of Elite entry-level salespeople, of course, jumps out first. However, there’s also a huge number of Weak salespeople, so I decided to dig a little deeper to determine why.

Surprising results

Beyond an intuitive lack of selling experience and education, I found two factors that really differentiated the Weak group from others.

  • Lack of Commitment – All groups showed a strong desire for success, but, on average, the Weak group lacked the commitment to fight through and do the uncomfortable things necessary to reach success. They also lacked the ability to easily change, grow and adapt. Critical factors in today’s fast changing environment.

TIP: Never hire a candidate who lacks this commitment. See the CEO of the Objective Management Group discuss why here.

  • Missing Sales DNA Competencies – These elements, when present, support the ability to sell, but when lacking may hinder sales success, even if the person is taught exactly what to do and say. While Selling Competencies are tactical skills that are easily taught, Sales DNA Competencies indicate whether an individual will actually execute well when in the moment.

I like to say, “Selling Competencies are the ‘can do’ and Sales DNA Competencies are the ‘will do’ elements.”

Sales DNA Competencies are sometimes not obvious to the salesperson or their manager/coach and therefore are not typically addressed within most sales organizations. Candidates lacking adequate Sales DNA tend to struggle with actual selling and ultimately fail.

What you should do

Don’t be put off by the significant number of “weak” entry-level salespeople out there. About 25% of the remaining entry-level salespeople, while not Elite, aren’t horribly weak either. A workable approach is to target sales people in the Strong and Serviceable buckets, then develop a precise, comprehensive on boarding program to help them grow. Time and energy spent helping new hires from the middle buckets will likely pay better dividends than funneling assets into hiring only the Elite.

TIP: Not all “weak” salespeople should be passed over. Those with adequate commitment, an acceptable Sales DNA level and certain key selling competencies can be molded into fine salespeople.

Stop searching in the hay stack

Finding Elite entry-level salespeople is much like playing the lottery. Somebody wins, just not likely you. Fortunately, success can be found in less-elite candidates.

Here’s a sample Sales Candidate Assessment so you can see first-hand the different elements we evaluate in salespeople. Click the camera icons next to each element for further explanation.

And Click here for our eBook Sales Hiring: Get It Right from the Start.


Gretchen Gordon, President of Braveheart Sales Performance leads a team of consultants who solve sales problems for clients. She is an award-winning Sales Management blogger and has been recognized as a Top 50 Sales Influencer. She is a dynamic speaker at conferences and events and contributes sales articles to a variety of publications focused on effective sales leadership including Selling Power. Gretchen is an avid golfer and is a student of performance psychology. She loves to explore the parallels between sport and sales performance.