How in the World Do You Find Good Salespeople?

I was talking last week with a partner at a successful investment firm. He asked me this question, “What do you think about looking in the technology sector to find salespeople for our company?” I responded by telling him that he was asking the wrong question.

Here’s the right question, and it’s the key to finding good salespeople for your organization. What’s your sales strategy?

Your sales strategy determines the actions that need to be taken by your salespeople and the time frames in which they should be completed. A good salesperson for your company is a person with the talent and experience that aligns with your strategy. Nothing else matters.

In the world of running, exercise physiologists refer to fast-twitch muscles and slow-twitch muscles. Fast-twitch muscles enable a runner to run quickly at high speed and slow-twitch muscles enable a runner to run long distances with endurance.

Every runner has a different mix of these muscles. The key to success in running, then, is knowing who you are and competing in races that fit your muscle make-up.

Fast-Twitch Sales Muscles and Slow-Twitch Sales Muscles

In the world of sales, fast-twitch muscles relate to being able to quickly connect with a new prospect, assess his or her needs, focus on a solution, and close a deal without distraction or delay. Doing this well is a unique skill and works in sales strategies that require a one call close. These are your sprinters.

The slow-twitch salesperson has the unique skill to foster long-term relationships, establish a compelling value case, and build consensus with multiple decision makers. This takes time and patience and may result in just a handful of big deals a year. These are your marathon runners.

And, of course, there all kinds of ranges in-between. The key to finding good salespeople is knowing what race you’re running–your sales strategy–and matching the skills of the salesperson to that strategy.

In other words, don’t ask a sprinter to win a marathon or a marathon runner to win a sprint.

Back to the Investment Firm

Let’s return, then, to my conversation with the investment firm partner. Clients who will bring millions of dollars of assets into their firm are not going to do so on a whim. He needs to look to industries with long sales cycles and consultative selling practices.

I actually steered him from the technology sector, with offerings that are often here today and gone tomorrow, and to pharmaceuticals. An odd pairing on the surface–financial services and pharmaceuticals–but a better strategic fit.

When looking to find good salespeople, you’re seeking alignment of talent to task. You’re not looking for a similar product to yours but a similar process, long, short, or in-between. Strategy is the key.