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5 Telltale Signs of All-Star IT Salespeople

Recently, CareerBuilder released the results of a groundbreaking survey that attempted to quantify the tangible and intangible impacts a bad hire can have on an organization.

Kendra Lee

July 31, 2014

3 Min Read
5 Telltale Signs of All-Star IT Salespeople

Recently, CareerBuilder released the results of a groundbreaking survey that attempted to quantify the tangible and intangible impacts a bad hire can have on an organization. From a financial perspective, CareerBuilder found that failed hires typically cost companies somewhere between $25,000 and $50,000, while less tangible consequences—negative impacts on corporate culture, customer relationships, etc.—can be equally significant.

For VAR sales managers and business owners, those numbers probably make you a little queasy.

After all, it often takes nine months to one year for newly hired IT sales reps to reach full productivity (regardless of their prior experience), which makes hiring a new salesperson not just a huge investment, but also a huge risk. After all, VARs count on those reps to drive the revenue needed to fund the business. If after 12 months a salesperson isn’t contributing to the bottom line, then your business could take a big hit.

So, what can you do to mitigate that risk? While there’s no way to truly know if you’ve hired an all-star or a dud until after a rep’s first year on the job, there are some telltale signs you should monitor to gauge your reps’ potential:

  1. Work ethic: Do your reps only work 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and refuse to answer email on the weekends? One VAR business owner we work with was so frustrated by his sales reps’ work ethic that he started tracking their whereabouts via their cell phones. If you need to go that far, you’ve got a serious problem.

  2. Effort: Even the worst sales reps will close sales if they’re doing the right activities. Keep an eye out for reps who don’t make prospecting calls or repeatedly delay opportunities by 30 days. It might indicate that they don’t have the right effort level for the job.

  3. Coachability: Sales is an ever-changing field. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Your sales reps need to be flexible and willing to try anything (within reason) to be successful. If a rep brushes off suggestions to improve his performance, it should set off warning signals.

  4. Sales intelligence: When you coach your rep, does he quickly grasp what you’ve shared and understand how to apply it? And can he repeat it when a similar opportunity presents itself again? One VAR business owner I work with hired a sales rep who was eager to succeed and wanted to do the right activities, but after six months still wasn’t able to sell anything more than a firewall. That doesn’t bode well for attaining quota.

  5. Problem solving: While you shouldn’t expect sales reps to know how to configure your solution, you can expect them to diagnose a prospect’s general needs and align the needs to a particular solution. Great reps see opportunity in every problem and don’t require constant hand-holding to address customer needs. Just yesterday, one of our VAR customer’s newest reps came up with a new solution offering for prospects they’d previously deemed too small. It was a low-cost, easily implemented solution, and it opened the door to an entirely new revenue stream for the company.

Do your reps have those five qualities?

While it might be too early to tell for some reps, it’s a good idea to monitor these traits and know when to cut a failing rep loose. Great sales reps are worth their weight in gold, but you shouldn’t have to wait 12 months to determine if you’ve hired one.

Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the newly released book “The Sales Magnet” and the award winning book “Selling Against the Goal” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.

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About the Author(s)

Kendra Lee

Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the award-winning books “The Sales Magnet” and “Selling Against the Goal,” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.

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