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I have top performers that have very different styles and behavioral traits. Who do I emulate?

I'm lucky enough to have two top performers on my team who crush their revenue quota each quarter. I would love to replicate their performance with each new hire that we make this year. The challenge is that both of them have very different styles and approaches to the job. One sells more based on relationships and past experience and the other is more process oriented. Which style would be the easiest to replicate?


  • Determining who to emulate requires a deeper dive into which style speaks more to your company's culture and brand as well as the types of customers you are trying to sell to. How does each style compare to the existing Job Target Profile and has that Job Target Profile been validated? Top performers, regardless of style and behavioral traits, gravitate to customers and target markets that allow them to be in "their zone". If you look deeper into the customer mix, industry, type of sale - you will start to uncover where each top performing is landing business - and I would suspect that is where you will see differences. Top performers have also figured out how to leverage their internal company resources to round out what is necessary to be successful. In the regard to what each top performing needs for support from the organization based on their style, you'll want to ask yourself which model is more scalable. So what is easier to replicate? What style really matches your business strategy overall? You'll know as you dig deeper.

  • Great insight! As a salesperson, this really resonates with me and my past experiences as both a sales manager and as a member of a sales team.

  • Good question! My mother-in-law and I were just talking about this last night. She was a top-performing sales rep at her previous company (health insurance).

    She's a Persuader -- very relationship-based salesperson. She excelled by going directly to the consumer. But one of her colleagues (also a top performer) did his best work building relationships with doctors' offices.

    So I wonder if it's possible to look for traits that are going to make them successful in the role (high dominance, high extraversion, etc.) but then allow them the flexibility to sell based on their strengths.

  • This is a great question! If you have ever read about "Eagle Sales People", they tend to have more of that relationship focus, but also, do not always know the best way to describe the WHY and HOW of their process. In my experience, relationship focussed employees tend to also be more subjective decision makers, where as process focussed employees, tend to be more objective in their decision making. I would assume that the relationship focussed sell would be harder to replicate as it is more based on subjective decision making.

    Advice- As you continue to build out that team, if you hire someone that you notice leads with more of a relationship focus, pair them with the relationship focussed seller as a mentor. If you hire someone that is more of a processed driven individual, pair them with your employee that has already figured out a process that works. That being said, the more relationship focussed employee, may want to see that structured process that has worked for your employee, and then want to expand on that process and adjust as they see fit with their relationship focus.

  • There are three ways I think about this issue.

    First - the Behavioral Assessment measures 4 different personality characteristics, but there is more to a person than just those 4 traits. There are other personality characteristics that we don't measure, individual values and interests (e.g., power oriented vs. status vs. money), cultural fit to an organization, past experiences, cognitive ability, and even how engaged one person is vs another (e.g., motivation). Performance is quite complicated in that way. So it is possible that one person is a better "behavioral fit" but the other person may have some of the above that pushes them, motivates them, etc to achieve higher performance. For example, maybe person A fits the job really well and person B is really motivated by the rewards.

    Speaking of Cognitive Ability - It is one of the strongest predictors of job performance. All things being equal - someone who can learn fast, figure things out, etc is going to out perform someone who is lower. So again - it is possible that one person is powering through with their brain, while the other is doing so more with their behavioral style.

    Finally - assessments in the hiring process are really meant to increase the odds of good hires. That means, across 100 applicants, if you are hiring towards a high performance job target, then you increase your chances of bringing on people who can be successful. At the same time, in many roles (not all) there are more than one means to an end. That means different personality styles can lead to similar success. Someone might be excellent with people and do better sales, while someone who is excellent at follow-through is equally good. So ultimately, this is why we conduct validity studies... So we can look at broader numbers of people in a role (e.g., 60) and identify which Factor or Factors on average (not absolutely) will lead to better performance.

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