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Why Wild Goalie Devan Dubnyk Should Never Play Professional Basketball
[Three Characteristics Great Salespeople Share]

I’m guessing that you’ve heard about Devan Dubnyk, newly acquired goaltender for the Minnesota Wild whose presence seems to have turned the team around.

At 6’6” and 210 lbs., Dubnyk is an intimidating goalie. Even so, he’s often asked why he didn’t play basketball.

His answer: Have you seen those guys?

Believe it or not, Dubnyk is on the small side when compared to basketball players.

When you are five-and-a-half feet tall — give or take an inch or two — like I am, that’s hard to fathom. But clearly not all athletes are created equal and some are well suited for one sport but not another.

And though most are athletic and can jump from sport to sport and perform well, they generally really excel in only one.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at this. The fact is that’s pretty much the way it is for all of us.

Take salespeople.

Certainly not all salespeople are created equal. Some have the right personality, expertise and skills for a given position or for selling a certain product, others do not.

Get the wrong salesperson on board in your organization, and you will have low or at best marginal production, and high turnover rates.

But the right salesperson? He or she could add hundreds of thousands of dollars to your bottom line.
And yet, I often hear sales managers lamenting how difficult it is to recruit and retain highly productive, professional salespeople.

Many seem to accept the 80/20 rule: that 80 percent of their sales are made by only 20 percent of their sales force. And further they accept a high turnover rate among less productive salespeople as “normal.”

I’m no sales person myself, but I’ve noticed that many people in sales positions lack the basic attributes required for success.

Research bears out my observation. It shows, for example, that 55 percent of salespeople are in the wrong profession.

Further, although another 20-25% possess essential attributes to sell, they should be selling something other than what they are selling.

Why am I writing about this? Because it’s so important to your organization’s bottom line to recognize the attributes of world-class salespeople and have the right salespeople on board. 

What are these attributes? What separates a great salesperson from a poor or even good salesperson?

We know that the best of the best tend to have the same characteristics. These characteristics vary a little across industries and even across salespeople in the same organization, but there’s no doubt salespeople commonly have the same traits.

As you might guess, a list of these traits is unlimited, but here are three of the most important:

 Empathy
Empathy allows you to put yourself into the hearts and minds of others. Think of it as walking in another person’s shoes.

If your salespeople have a feel for what your customers need and sincerely want to help them solve their problems, they have empathy.

You can identify empathy in your people because they have:

  • the ability to identify and react accurately to the behavior and emotions of customers.
  • the ability to identify other people’s feelings and frustrations objectively without necessarily agreeing with them
  • the ability to establish rapport easily and put people “at ease” in their presence
  • good listening skills
  • curiosity, asking questions that require more than a yes or no answer

At the most basic level, honest people do not lie.

Thus honest salespeople do not lie. Ever. Instead they give creditable counsel and frank, sincere advice.

You can identify honest salespeople because they:

  • represent the facts accurately. “Spin control” is foreign to them. So is bragging. If anything they are given to understatement, especially about their own accomplishments.
  • give you all information whether good, bad or ugly
  • give others direct opinions without being hurtful. They say nothing about those who are absent that they would not say if they were present.
  • keep their commitments, even when it is difficult, expensive or inconvenient

Ego-drive is all about competitiveness. Inherent in salespeople, it’s a persistence to succeed and, above all, win.

You’ll identify ego-drive in salespeople because they:

  • are self-motivated and self-starters with clear ideas of what they want to achieve
  • enjoy competitiveness and look for ways to measure themselves against their peers
  • possess leadership qualities and are not afraid to exert pressure to influence others
  • enjoy the sales profession because it provides personal gratification and ego enhancement
  • are determined to win and willing to take risks

Here’s the bottom line. I’m not suggesting that product knowledge, researching and knowing your competitors, follow-up, and in today’s world, technological prowess, aren’t important. They are.

What I am saying is that if you look for these three characteristics in your candidates and hire with them in mind, you’ll be well on your way to boosting sales success in your organization.

Your Solution Toolbox: How to Never Hire the ‘Right’ Salespeople

If you think back over hundreds of years of sales, you’ll have to agree, I’m sure, that the sales world has changed.

Old-world, snake-oil peddlers are long gone and in their places stand far more noble and trustworthy salespeople.

Indeed, the sales role has changed even in the last few years. Today’s salespeople are more consultants than “salesmen.” They must understand their product or service, know how it fits the needs of the buyer, and provide the buyer with help and advice.

What does that mean to you? Above all, that when you build your sales team, you must find people appropriate for your organization.

That begs the question: How do you identify people who will make good salespeople for your organization? People who will take ownership and responsibility for their work? People who will take time to get to know their products and understand their competitors? People who will stay up-do-date on technology and other sales trends? People with empathy, honesty and ego-drive?

Here are two talent management solutions:

Profiles Sales Assessment™ 
Profiles Sales Assessment™ (PSA) measures how well a person fits a specific sales job in your organization so that you can optimize sales performance.

You can use PSA to select, onboard and manage salespeople and account managers.

You can also use it to understand when salespeople on your team need training and support, and how to help them.

Drawing upon data derived from the top-performing salespeople in specific sales jobs in your organization, PSA will help you:

  • evaluate an individual based on qualities required to perform successfully
  • predict on-the-job performance in seven critical sales behaviors: prospecting, call reluctance, closing the sale, self-starting, working with a team, building and maintaining relationships, and compensation preference.

Profiles Sales CheckPoint™
Profiles Sales CheckPoint™will help you improve your sales team’s performance.

It’s a feedback system. You use it to evaluate your salespeople, pinpoint their development needs and align priorities.

It provides useful information that helps in:

  • supporting better coaching and communication
  • improving salesperson productivity and satisfaction
  • reducing turnover

Profiles International recently issued a white paper entitled The Salesman’s Almanac: A Forecast of Future Sales.

After a brief history of sales, the paper talks about future trends in sales. I used a very little of this information in this newsletter. If you wish to read the full white paper, you will find it here.

Additionally, if you would like more information about Profiles Sales Assessment™ and Profiles Sales CheckPoint™ or any of Profiles International’s assessments, call me today at 952-322-3330 or send an email to

HR Consulting
Call me, too, if you are looking for professional assistance with your personnel questions. We’ll help you learn how to:
 • understand your workers’ strengths, weaknesses and interests
 • match people to job demands
 • increase employee performance throughout your organization

Let's Talk! We offer a no-obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures and practices. This may help determine what's missing in your current programs. Again, call 952-322-3330 or send an email to