What does it mean to be a ‘good’ salesperson?  How do you find one?  What do you look for?  Jim Collins, author of


Good to Great


, says that his team’s research found that great companies recruit character first – before skills.

After twenty years of mistakes and successes, and after helping recruit and coach thousands of salespeople, we have discovered personal responsibility to be a crucial character trait to hire for … along with honesty and hard work ethic.  Doing this improves efficiency and the culture. Salespeople with this character trait require less maintenance and management time.

If we can teach you to recruit someone who behaves in a personally responsible way, then you will find a salesperson who feels an obligation (in life) to act correctly – with or without oversight.  You will find their past to be a mirror of independent and accountable behavior.  When doing sales work, and left to themselves, a personally responsible salesperson remains dutiful and protective of what is expected.  They do their job.

Whatever you are, be a good one.  Abraham Lincoln

‘Personal’ responsibility also means that a salesperson respects and acts on obligations.  It’s kind of like honesty applied to duties.  Responsible performance is held close to the heart.  That’s why it’s personal.  A salesperson with a responsible nature highly values commitments.  It’s actually a part of their makeup as a person.

To employ salespeople, who live out this trait as a part of their core values, impacts the peace of mind of a sales manager.  That’s because, with or without management presence, a salesperson will do their best to do the work that is placed in their care.

Great salespeople work in a reliable and dependable manner.  They keep on keeping on with doing what their role demands of them. Sales managers who recruit for personal responsibility build strength into their culture – strength displayed in customer service, follow up, and promises kept, internally and externally to the company.

How does this trait affect failure and low performance?  How do the best salespeople react to low numbers?  Responsible salespeople accept blame for less that stellar activity, behavior, or sales results.  They accept coaching. They may have to be convinced of their culpability, but when persuaded, they take ownership and work hard to correct themselves and the situation.

Here’s a good structured question to ask. “What are the top three things that motivate you in order of priority?” (Award 3 points if people or a person or a personal motivation is somewhere in the top three.  Award 0 points if they do not have any motivation toward helping or benefitting another person.)

Honesty, hard work ethic, and personal responsibility – crucial character traits.  Learn to screen and interview well for these traits.  Pass and do not hire someone when your intuition warns you – even if the skills are present.  Your focus on the mature aspects of a person will mean much to the future of your sales organization, your company, and its customers.  Do great.  Recruit and coach well.  Lance.

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