I want to discuss what I’ve observed as one of the key weaknesses sales people have, that minimize their effectiveness in selling. Of all the faults you deal with as a sales manager, that you can really look through as far as weaknesses, I think this is the most difficult one to overcome. And the one that can have the greatest impact on a salesperson.
I'm talking about need for approval, which is wanting to be liked. Now Dr. Wayne Dyer said that everyone likes approval, but not everyone needs approval. It really depends on how we define ‘approval’, but high need for approval is really what gets in the way.
High need for approval is defined as someone who really want people to like them, in fact, they want people to like them at such a high level that they won't do some of the tougher things that are required to be successful in selling.
Prospecting, because prospects might not want to hear from them on the call.
Closing, because they might get a no.
Asking probing, difficult questions
Getting to multiple decision makers.
All of those could have tension in them, and someone with a very high need for approval will avoid those kinds of conversations.
I mention this to you as a manger, in two ways. One is that when you're interviewing candidates to test, start looking for need for approval. There's validated ways to do that through testing. The other is to watch for it in the interview. Overly pleasing, deferential, acting like the ‘child’ to your ‘parent’ in the interview. There's all kinds of things, but overall, if someone has a high need for approval and I hire them, that's the start of a long road. It takes a lot of energy and focus to just do what you want them to do, but for me that's just a non starter.
Then the other part is high need for approval in your existing people. If you have high need for approval in them, you got to decide if it’s something that is debilitating. Are they, ultimately, not going to succeed? Or can it be minimized through some coaching and training? If they have it, sometimes I find it's their role. Certain roles in sales, like account management, lend itself to being a little bit more accepting of high need for approval, versus ‘farming’ or ‘hunting’.
So look at it both ways. Really be on the watch for this because it's the most debilitating weakness a salesperson can have, in the long run. Think of all the things that are required in their role that a ‘high need for approval’ salesperson will avoid at all costs. With your interviewing with candidates and with your existing people, start identifying it and then developing a plan on what you need to do to work on helping them grow out of it.