What does it mean to be driven? To have drive? Is it important to sales success? Where does it come from? Can it be taught? One of the hardest challenges as a sales manager is hiring great talent. Even after multiple interviews, sales evaluation exams, and impeccable references contacted a less than hire can still happen. What makes them less than? I can sum this up in one word, Drive.
In my experience it is really hard to root out whether a person has drive or not. Most, if not all, potential candidates can talk the talk but very few can walk the walk. After a few months their drive, or lack of, is what usually starts frustrating me. Those that have drive and are driven, a breath of fresh air. The latter I started analyzing years ago and here is what I found.
As a previous owner of a business I was frustrated with the seemingly lack of desire to succeed from my employees. My conclusion was maybe they didn’t have enough “skin in the game”. Creative pay plans with possible incentives and bonuses were designed with little success. While money, or lack of, can motivate it really was more than that I was after. Where was their creativity, their motivation, and where was their drive?
This brought me to a new point in my hiring and managing ideology. I would hire people that had drive. Then I could take my business, my sales and management teams, to the level of success I and more importantly we desired.
To get started I needed a concrete definition of drive. Simple enough. Well… not really. As I did some research I found that the definition of drive was all over the map. Nothing fully describing my concept of being driven anyways. Finally, I decided to come up with my own definition which has served me well for some time now.
“Success is almost totally dependent upon drive and persistence. The extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret of winning.” -Denis Waitley
In an effort to hire driven sales and management pros a basic understanding of what that means needed to be had. Cleverly, or at least I think so, I have broken drive into 5 components that spells this out. Literally.
Components of D.R.I.V.E.
Disciplined – Intense focus on the job at hand. To be intensely focused seems straight forward enough. Unfortunately it’s not for the average sales professional. Throughout my management career I have found sales people to be a little “ADD” (attention deficit disorder) typically. While they might not be diagnosed as such they have many of the same strong characteristics. Just the term “disciplined” brings a knot in most sales staffs stomachs. The really great successful sales pros however have overcome this somewhere, somehow, in their career. Without discipline success very rarely happens.
Resourceful – Finds a way to succeed no matter what the obstacle. Optimistic. Understands the value of education, networking and teams.
Ingenious – Thinks different. Smart. Looking for opportunities within, and without, existing opportunities.
Voracious – Is motivated, competitive, and won’t stop until achievement is attained. This is a mindset. It’s a formidable desire and tenacity for success. When everyone else has given up voracious sales pros are still finding ways to make it work.
Entrepreneurial – Does not look at their career as a job. Has vision. Gets excited. Dedicated work ethics. Not afraid to put in the time. Money is typically not their only motivation. Success Driven.
Items to Think About – Q&A
Question: Can any of these above components be absent and still have drive?
Answer: No! To have a driven desire to succeed takes all of the D.R.I.V.E. components.
Question: Can drive be taught or is it something we’re born with?
Answer: From birth we are given a “natural curiosity” and are driven to explore. Some more than others. Environment plays a large role here as well. Ultimately, everyone could nurture and expand their basic drive.
Question: Is drive really that important to sales success?
Answer: Not only is it important but it’s crucial to long term successes.
One of the ways I root out a persons drive is by asking them to define D.R.I.V.E. live and in person. I do this as I am interviewing them without any preparation on their part. I want to see their gut reactions and responses. I also ask them to fill out a sales questionnaire. Basic questions relating to sales processes. Typically when both have been done I have a pretty good idea if they can sell and will have the drive to achieve. While some of this can be subjective it is important to me to see if they share the same basic sales ideology and drive that I do. If so, a comradeship, or bonding, takes place and success begins. Typically quickly. Isn’t that ultimately what we as managers and owners are looking for?Photos courtesy of 123RF