Great salespeople work hard.  And, along with honesty and personal responsibility toward others, hard work is an essential character trait found in top sales performers.  When we recruit well, background checks, resumes, and other screening and interviewing skills focus on the discovery of this trait.

All hard work provides a profit to a salesperson.  Why? … sometimes work doesn’t produce a sale.  Even so, continuing to work hard strengthens approach methods, presentation skills, and other types of sales muscle.  It also keeps people ‘alive’ and connected to hope as the perseverance they show improves their character.

A salesperson who slows down their work over any time period will see decreases in sales and sales strength.  First, the number of prospects and opportunities they find begin to lessen, then the number of appointments decrease.  This decreases the number of presentations and quotes and finally it impacts sales revenue.  This low activity begins to erode their sales skills and instincts as the number of sales opportunities decrease.  Just like a ship that stays at harbor, the barnacles of misuse corrode their skills.  They rust.

When someone slows down or changes into a “slacker,” they often become a brother to someone who tears down a sales team.  Unproductive people look for something to take the place of their idle hands.  When they stop working, one behavior they turn to is gossip.  Slackers talk about how bad things are and about the faults of their leaders.  Their words and their sluggard work demeanor influence those around them.  So,  whether they realize it or not, they begin the work of tearing down what’s around them instead of building it up.

We’ve all seen the effects of lazy salespeople – low sales, bad morale, etc.  Recently, a sales team described a lack of hard work as … misuse of time leading to poor time management, less energy, lack of passion, gossip, excuses, pity parties, and an inability to find or get results out of opportunities.  They actually refuse to work hard.

(Note: There is nothing better than to find satisfaction in your work – to strive against the grain of mediocre production – to enjoy your work and to fight for the benefit of others.  My dad many times while we were growing up said, “I don’t care what you do … I don’t care if you’re a ditch digger, just be the best ______ditch digger you can be.”)

When screening candidates, look for ‘hard work’ evidence in their background and resumes.


For example, if you looked into the background of my oldest son, you would find that for eight years he got up at four in the morning to develop his swimming abilities.  Or, if you talked with my business partner, you would find that he picked potatoes for years prior to college.  In other words, look for periods of time where the candidate had to sacrifice something for long periods of time in order to provide for or better themselves.  There can also be instances where this trait is learned through the expectations of the candidate’s family growing up.

Here’s one question to ask during a structured interview, “Please tell me about a time in your life when you had to sacrifice in order to achieve something important.  What did you sacrifice?  Why? (Award maximum of 5 points only if candidate mentions something notable, and that time was sacrificed and work effort was expended, and if the candidate explains the motivation as the need to achieve, win, provide for others, or reach a goal.)




no. of pts

Find salespeople who want to work hard – who want to be productive.  If you do, coaching their success becomes easier, and you, as a manager, look smart.  Finally, make sure that they are people who are honest and take personal responsibility for their actions and obligations.  Lance.

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