My first book, The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, is a competency model. It covers 9 main attributes or behaviors successful salespeople tend to possess in large enough quantities to do well. It also covers 8 skills that salespeople need to create and win opportunities. There are 17 elements in all, and it makes for a good lens through which to view salespeople.
The lens that a competency model provides allows you to understand why a person may be struggling and what you can do to improve performance. And here is the thing: no one has all of these competencies at the highest level, and everyone has deficiencies in some of them. You can be the most disciplined person in the world, and not be as resourceful as you need to be. You can be resourceful, and still not take initiative, choosing to be reactive and living in your inbox.
This is true of the skills as well. You might be very good at prospecting and still lack the business acumen that makes you a trusted advisor. You might also do well at diagnosing, but struggle to gain commitments.
Everyone you hire will have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the competencies necessary for the role for which you are considering them. This means you have to ask yourself two questions:
Does this person have the competencies that they need to succeed in this role?
The answer to this question is always, “Yes, some of them.” If you look at the role of leader, you are looking at competencies that cover so much territory that it is hard to judge an individual. Charisma? Vision? Integrity? Business acumen? Strategic thinking? Record of producing results? Competitive?
All of these are important, and you will find each of them at different levels in different individuals. No one is going to score 100 percent on every competency. Which means we must ask a different question:
Can I develop the other competencies or live without them?
You are not going to hire perfect people. You are going to hire people who need to develop in some areas. You are hiring human beings, and we all have deficiencies. One of the decisions you are making when you hire is the decision as to whether you can help them improve in some area or mitigate the damage the deficiency causes.
If you are hiring for an opportunity creating salesperson, an aversion to prospecting would be a deficiency that you cannot accept. It is the critical aspect of the role. But you may decide that you can live with a deficiency in their business acumen, because your company has the ability to develop that in your salespeople.
If you are hiring an account manager, that prospecting deficiency isn’t going to be a problem, but a lack of communication, caring, or accountability may be deficiencies that would cause that individual to struggle, or be better suited for another role.
To hire well, you need to look as closely at the deficiencies as the competencies. Looking only at the competencies and not the deficiencies is how you make hiring mistakes—and it’s how you lose time.
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Filed under: Leadership