In a recent post, I observed how easy it can be for parents to see talents that are obvious (or conspicuous by their absence) in their kids. The article was inspired by a conversation with the proud father of three grown sons, two of whom were natural arguers as kids and became successful lawyers and the other of whom was the reserved, studious, analytical kid who became—you guessed it—an engineer.
Lawyers aren’t the only people who need to convince others and bring them around to their point of view. And engineers aren’t the only ones who need to find problems, pick them apart, and develop solutions. B2B salespeople need both those talents to perform at a high level. And they need half a dozen more talents as well (as we know from our research and our continuing success with our Sales Talent Interview assessment system). Let’s talk about these other six.
1. Work Intensity
One measures how hard someone likes to work, and the pace at which they work. That is the talent we call Work Intensity. To spot this talent, watch for people who are always busy, who have a lot going on, and who fill every waking hour with activity. They often walk fast, check their watch a lot, tap their pen, or seem impatient. They want things to happen now, and they have very clear short-term and long-term goals.
In addition to working hard, salespeople need to be organized, have a good plan, and create structure. The talent of Discipline measures those behaviors. Spot this talent by looking for people who are buttoned up, organized, and have checklists for everything. Their desk, car, and house are neat and never cluttered. They may even color code or label things. They are always on time and like to have a plan.
3-4. Positivity and Interpersonal
Two more talent themes tell us how good someone is at building rapport and creating lasting relationships built on trust. They also measure adaptability and resiliency. These sales talents are Positivity (the short-term and surface aspects of this talent) and Interpersonal (the long-term and depth aspects). Spot them by looking for people who smile a lot and make you feel comfortable right away. Watch for people who are very outgoing, the life of the party, and have a big network, a lot of contacts, and a bunch of friends.
You will also want to look for a talent that tells us how willing someone is to take risks, get to the decision makers, make something big out of nothing, and make their own decisions. That’s what we call Enterpriser. Catch this talent theme by looking for people with lots of self-confidence. They’ll maintain good eye contact, make it a point to talk about their awards and accomplishments, and don’t be surprised if they do a little name dropping.
Finally, we measure a talent that tells us how competitive someone is and how important winning is to them. Watch for people who hate to lose and are compelled to win, even if it is a friendly board game, and even if all the other players are children (yeah, really). People loaded with this theme of Ambition love to be measured and can’t not keep score. They’ll be motivated by sales contests—if they think the rules are set so they can win.
Yogi Berra said, “You can tell a lot by just looking.” The more carefully you observe people, the better you’ll get at identifying talents. Your eyes and ears are no substitute for a scientific talent assessment, but your powers of observation can help you identify sales candidates early on and can sometimes save you from wasting money on an assessment of someone who just doesn’t have it.