Published onĀ June 10, 2009

Beyond the challenge of establishing an applicant’s values and interaction style – topics we’ve examined in previous articles — there remains, for hiring managers, the key issue of whether or not a given candidate has the skills to sell as a true superstar, what I call a Titan. If there is a skills mismatch — if the person you’re interviewing lacks the essential abilities to sell as a top performer — then you’ve got to decide whether or not the person’s existing aptitudes support growth in the key areas.

Old-school selling put the emphasis on prospecting, presenting, influencing, and closing. Titan selling, on the other hand – the kind I examine at length in my book The Titan PrincipleĀ® — places the emphasis on one’s ability to gain a prospect’s time and attention, and to positioning oneself as an invaluable resource by means of questions posed during the interviewing (or qualifying) stage.

Good candidates for Titan salespeople, then, are likely to show strong abilities to leave a superior first impression (and thereby gain time and attention) and to be adept at the “give-and-take” of the interview. This is not to say that Titans don’t try to close the sale, but that their emphasis on initial contact and direction-oriented questioning will change the nature of their relationships with prospects and customers. Influencing and closing are likely to arise naturally, almost in the form of an invitation from the customer, because the Titan salesperson has positioned himself or herself as an invaluable resource from the beginning of the relationship onwards.

Be on the lookout, then, for superior bonding and networking skills early on in your interview with the salesperson. Beware, in particular, of short, curt responses to initial questions, extremely long discourses meant to display the applicant’s superior product knowledge, or an unwillingness to engage in in-depth role playing exercises with you. Each of these behaviors may be a sign that the person you’re interviewing does not (yet) possess aptitudes in the key areas of first impressions or direction-based questioning. (This applicant may be adept at prospecting, presenting, influencing, and closing — but the relationships he or she initiates with customers are unlikely to be focused on the “ideal fit,” and may result in little long-term loyalty.)


At my company, Karr Associates Inc., we always urge our clients to profile their current sales force in terms of behaviors, values and skills. The information gleaned from these profiles will answer many of your current questions about your team’s performance, and give you ideas about what kinds of training and coaching are likely to help you help individual salespeople achieve Titan results.

The odds are that you’ve already invested huge amounts of money in hiring and training your current salespeople. Can a modest change or two deliver exceptional increases in sales effectiveness? Our experience is that the answer to that question is often “Yes.” Sometimes, the simple act of moving a salesperson from one area to another – making the change from an inside position to a territory development position, for instance — may be all that’s necessary to deliver dramatic increases in sales. To find out more about profiling your current sales staff, call Karr Associates Inc. at the number you’ll find at the end of this article.

Sometimes, profiling indicates that a given salesperson either isn’t cut out to be successful in sales, or isn’t likely to emerge as a Titan performer. What happens next in this situation, of course, is up to you.

Here’s to the Titans waiting to be developed in your organization!

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