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     It's now summer, and if you want to know who are the most hardworking sales people, it's likely that they are the ones who will brave the hot sun and keep on visiting customers.


    Besides having a great attitude to work real hard, effective sales people also have the right skills and knowledge to win customers and generate more sales.


     Unlike most sales hiring practices that simply emphasize hiring based on prior sales experience in the same industry, we advocate a more objective approach that will enlarge your talent pool and reduce hiring costs.


     We'll find out in this month's topics:

  1. How to Hire Highly Effective Sales People that Produce Great Results; and

  2. How to Create Your Own DIY Assessment Tool for Sales People?


     This issue's main article is on  "How to Hire Highly Effective Sales People that Produce Great Results", and we'll see how we can identify great sales talent that will fit well into your company.


    In brief:

  • Nearly 65% of salespeople who fail could have succeeded in the sales role that matched their skills;

  • When new hires failed, 89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11% of the time for a lack of skill;

  • When hiring sales people, one would have to combine various elements of attitude, skills and even aptitude to determine if that person will have what it takes to deliver sales results for you.  Read on... ...  


     To read the rest of this newsletter, pls. click here (


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How to Hire Highly Effective Sales People that Produce Great Results

by c.j. Ng


     In our previous newsletter, based on recent studies by Leadership IQ tracking over 20,000 new hires,  when new hires failed, 89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11% of the time for a lack of skill.  The attitudinal deficits include:

  • A lack of coachability;

  • Low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament.


     In the same issue, we also found that the cost of sales staff turnover can be as high as 150% of the employees' remuneration package, or more.


     Earlier in our September 2007 newsletter, we also quoted studies from HR Chally with the following findings:

  • Nearly 65% of salespeople who fail could have succeeded in the sales role that matched their skills.
  • Only 19% of effective "hunters" (or New Business Developers) are just as effective at maintaining their customers over the long term, a skill critical to the success of "farmers" (or Account Managers).
  • On the other hand, less than 15% of good farmers are comfortable doing cold calls, an essential task of successful hunters.
  • Overall, about 50% of the failure rate in sales positions is due to putting a natural hunter in a farmer's job, or vice versa


     Simply put, there are 3 main criteria that every sales hire will have to fulfill if he or she were to produce any result for you:

  1. Attitude (is the sales hire willing to deal with your kind of customers under the conditions of your sales environment);

  2. Aptitude (does the sales hire have the natural ability to perform the different sales tasks such as qualifying the right customers, helping customers to solve their problems objectively, responding effectively to customers' needs, etc.)

  3. Skills (is the sales hire well-trained and well-equipped with the skills to produce great results for you?)

So What Kind of Sales People Do I Need?

     There are about 14 types of sales-related jobs, ranging from telesales to customer service positions.  However, for the sake of simplicity, we will zoom in on 3 of the most common sales positions:  New Business Developers (hunters), Account Managers (farmers) and Channel Sales (indirect sales).
     The competencies for a New Business Developer include:
  • Being able to take the lead in a social setting and network effectively;
  • Qualifying the right prospects;
  • Able to spot or create sales opportunities, etc.
     The competencies for an Account Manager include:
  • Systematically work towards achieving goals and targets for the customer account;
  • Able to gather and harness internal resources and provide a solution for the customer;
  • Being responsive to customers' needs and requests effectively; etc.
     The competencies for a Channel Sales person, is yet different, which include:
  • Train the channel partners' sales people in both product knowledge and selling skills;
  • Conduct joint-sales calls with channel partners' sales people to provide coaching for them;
  • Motivate channel partners to take on and sell new products to new customers; etc.
     Obviously, the competencies required for the different sales roles can be quite different.  There have also been numerous occasions when companies require one sales person to take on and do ALL the above jobs!
     The key to successful sales hiring starts first by knowing what kind of sales roles you need, and then find the right sales talent for that role later.

Identifying the Right Sales Behaviours


     Once you have identified the respective sales roles you are looking for, the next step will be how you can design the right questions so that you can spot them in interviews.  This is actually very easily achieved, which unfortunately we usually screw up as we are being misled by so-called "behavioural-based interview" techniques.  More can be read in our previous newsletter.


     Depending on the sales role you are hiring, here are some sample questions you can use:

  • “Tell me a time when all your sales leads seem to dry up, and you have difficulty meeting your sales target”

  • “Tell me a time when your major customer had a re-organisation, and they decided not to buy from you anymore”

  • “Tell me a time when your one of your major distributors simply does not produce any sales for your new product after months of persuading them to do so.”


     As you can see in the above questions, we tend to raise interview questions that raise possible weakness in the sales person, and for a good reason.  Whether that sales person has the resilience or motivation to sell for you depends a lot when he or she is selling in an adverse condition.  Hence, sales candidates with a good attitude are likely to say:

  • “It was a difficult period for me, but I was determined to look for new leads in non-traditional and unconventional ways... ...”

  • “I had always thought I knew my customers well, but there really was a time when the entire management was replaced.  I had to make up for the lost sales by increasing the sales from my other accounts, and also get some more new accounts... ...”

  • “There was this distributor whose business model was a "box-moving trader" who is real reluctant to spend time to educate customers on the benefits of our new product even though the price was higher.  However, we were able to provide enough coaching and support to instil confidence... ...”


     Based on the answers, you can deduce the attitudes, and sometimes even the aptitudes of your sales candidates.  You can then decide whom you'd want to hire.


     Also, using the old adage, "hire for attitude, and train for skills", even if the candidate does not have the same industry experience as yours, you can still broaden your talent pool.  As long as the candidate has the right attitude and aptitude, the relevant skills can be trained easily.


Assessing Your Sales Candidates


     While assessment tools are helpful in identifying the right candidates, it can be very expensive if you are using such tools for hiring sales people.  In other words, if the assessment results are negative, you will still have to pay for the assessments while still deciding NOT to hire that candidate!


     Hence, instead of paying for assessment tools to assess the abilities, you can actually conduct a role play with  the candidate.  You can see here for a sample case study, of which you can role play the part of the customer, while the candidate role plays the part of the sales person.


     Now you may need to have "model" answers to the role play, as well as some "standard" questions that your typical customers will throw at the candidate.  You can then grade the candidate according to their responses using a score sheet.  You can then share the scores with other interviewers to reach your conclusion without extra costs.


     These role plays need not be long.  You can set a time-frame of 3-5 minutes per role play.  While the candidate might not have completed the entire role-play, you will get a fairly good idea of where the role play is heading, and if the sales candidate is doing the right thing.


     Need help in formulating your hiring strategy for sales people so that you achieve greater success with your new sales hires?  Simply e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha.  All information shall be kept in confidence.

Power Breakfast Hour: 16 Aug 2012

How to Hire Highly Effective Sales People that Produces Great Results

  • How to identify highly-effective sales hires, even if they had NOT worked in your industry before;
  • How to make sure you hire the right sales talent for the right sales role or position; and

  • How to use role plays as an assessment tool in making sure you hire the right sales talent


VENUE:  Crowne Plaza Shanghai • 400 Panyu Road (near Fahuazhen Road) • 上海银星皇冠酒店 •  番禺路 400 号 (靠法华镇路)

DATE: Thursday, 16 Aug 2012

TIME: 08:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.




     To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The room can only take in 18, so please register early to avoid disappointments. Please e-mail your registrations to


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Upcoming Events


     In case you'd like to know what other public events we have, here's a snapshot of what's coming:


    • How to Achieve and Exceed HARD Goals
      《如何超越艰难的指标》  24 July 2012 (Shanghai, Chinese)

    • How to Use LinkedIn as a Marketing Tool to Win New Customers
      《如何使用LinkedIn作为寻找新客户的营销神兵》  2 Aug 2012 (Shanghai, English)

    • How to Build Highly Effective Multi-Generational Teams
      《如何打造跨年代的黄金团队、常胜之师》  9 Aug 2012 (Shanghai, Chinese)

    • How to Hire Highly Effective Sales People that Produce Great Results
      《如何招聘高效、高业绩销售人员》  16 Aug 2012 (Shanghai, English)

    • How to Build Highly Effective Multi-Generational Teams
      《如何打造跨年代的黄金团队、常胜之师》  17 Aug 2012 (Wuxi, Chinese)

    • How to Motivate Your Team to Achieve Optimal Performance in Tough Times
      《如何在艰难时候激励你的团队已获得最佳绩效》  23 Aug 2012 (Singapore, English)

    • Effective Conflict Resolution and Cross-Department Communication
      《如何化解冲突并处理跨部门沟通》  28 Aug 2012 (Beijing, Chinese - co-organised with the Swedish Chamber)


     Simply e-mail your enquiries to to or call +86-21-6219 0021 for enquiries. Sample video and audio recordings available upon requests.


Tips for Managers:

How to Create Your Own DIY Assessment Tool for Sales People?


By c.j. Ng


If you would like to make sure you hired the right sales person, sometimes you may want to use an assessment tool to make sure that you had made the right choice.


However, even according to one of the most sophisticated and predictive assessment tools available for sales people, HR Chally, there are limitations as to what an assessment tool can tell you about the candidate.

At best, the most predictive assessment tools are 85% accurate, and even HR Chally recommends that you can only base 30% of your hiring decision based on its assessments, while basing 30% on a structured behavioural interview, 30% on reference checks and 10% on your gut feel..


Hence, there are fewer companies who are willing to pay for assessment tools if they are going to base 30% or less of their hiring decisions.  This is especially true for sales positions where the staff turnover rate can be rather high.

The solution?  Create your own sales assessment tool!


In the above diagram, we measure in the Y-axis if a sales candidate is fast and spontaneous, or if he is slow and deliberate.  In the X-axis, we measure if the sales candidate is results-oriented or if he is relationship-oriented.

As you can also see from the above diagram, this is based on the DISC assessment.  Yet, if you are unwilling to pay for a DISC assessment, you can still ask the candidate the following questions just to have a feel of his inclination:


When customers make a request,

  • do you first consider how to respond as quickly as possible; OR (fast and spontaneous)

  • do you first consider how to make sure you provide a well-prepared response (slow and deliberate)


When you approach customers,

  • Do you want to first make sure you help them achieve better results; OR (result-oriented)

  • Do you want to first build a good relationship with them (relationship-oriented)

Using this next diagram, you can also measure if the sales candidate prefers to sell concrete products with shorter sales-cycles, or abstract solutions with longer sales-cycles.  You can also measure if the sales candidate is more high-touch, i.e. he is willing to spend more time to make sure customer satisfaction, or if he is low-touch, where he is more focused in closing the sale.  Here's how you can ask:

When you sell to customers,

  • Do you prefer to provide them with readily-available products; OR (concrete)

  • Do you prefer to provide them with products that you need to configure on your own (abstract)


During your sales meeting with your customer,

  • Do you usually find out how you can make the customer buy ASAP? OR (low-touch)

  • Do you usually help the customer find out what buying risks are involved? (high-touch)


One thing to note is that there are no right or wrong answers, as there are only answers that match or don't match your winning sales strategies used by your other sales people.


One more important thing to note is that such DIY assessment tools are no way as accurate as the paid versions.  These are used more as a complementary tool for a rigorous sales hiring process, where you just want to be doubly sure.


If you would like to find out how you can create your own DIY assessment tool, you can e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001

About Directions Management Consulting


Directions Management Consulting is the partner of LeadershipIQ in China and Asia.  LeadershipIQ helps more than 125,000 leaders every year through the facts drawn from one of the largest ongoing leadership studies ever conducted is used to help companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved.


In addition, Directions Management Consulting is a leading provider of sales performance, innovation and experiential learning solutions in China and many parts of Asia. is the sales performance arm of Directions Management Consulting specialising in conducting training, research and consulting services for sales managers and their team.


Raybattle is the strategic partner of Directions Management Consulting specialising in experiential learning events and management retreats.


Currently, Directions Management Consulting has served clients such as InterContinental Hotels Group, Unilever, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Philips Lighting, Carrier, Ingersoll Rand, Freudenberg etc.


Through collaboration with consultancies such as Forum Corporation, MTI, de Bono China, ProWay etc., the consultants in Directions Management Consulting have served clients such as PwC, Air Products, Evonik, Wacker, Epson amongst others.


Directions Management Consulting will increase its efforts to conduct leadership studies in China and other parts of Asia, so that more companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved in this part of the world.


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