One in every four people in the general population has better potential for sales work than 50% of the people already in the sales profession. And in reviewing the performance of employees for thousands of large mid-sized and small companies, we found that nearly 80 percent of the workers are not filling the jobs best suited to their talents, abilities and potential” – Herbert Greenberg and Harold Weinstein, Principals of Caliper, quoted in the Wall Street Journal

When sales organizations engage Peak to add reps to their sales team, one of the first things we do is an audit of the existing team to determine the traits of the best performers. This analysis provides valuable insight into the type of people that are strong sales people for our customers and contributes to the plan for finding new high achieving sales reps.

During the course of these audits, we look at behavioral and psychometric traits of the existing sales team members as well as the backgrounds and skills. What we learn tells us a lot about why the top achievers on the team are successful, but it also leads to some interesting data on the reps that are less successful. Often times there are reps that are under performing on a consistent basis and not only do they not seem to belong on the team, but don’t seem to have the profile to be successful in sales at all, which begs the question, how did they arrive on the team in the first place?

See 3 Reasons To Start Selecting Sales Hires Randomly

There are a variety of reasons why misfits might exist on a sales team. Here are the reasons we see most often:

1. Old Habits are hard to break – someone has been on the team for a while and although they are not really driving great numbers, they are not at the top of your list of priorities either, so they are effectively ignored.

2. Hard to find better reps – a sales rep may be failing, but the company doesn’t feel confident they can attract better talent or has a poor track record of picking winners so simply sticks with what they have.

3. People change – Some reps perform in spurts. There may be an external pressure or factor that caused them to perform beyond their capability for a time before they revert to their baseline. The ever optimistic sales manager retains the rep hoping they will produce at the higher rate of sales production.

Have you taken a close look at your sales team to see who belongs and who doesn’t? How many people on your team not only doesn’t belong on your team, but probably should be out of the sales profession altogether? Chances are there are one or more that need a career change and your sales results will benefit if you help them make that change.

To your success.


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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