How To Hire A Great Sales Professional
If you consider the 80/20 rule (also known as the pareto principle) that says 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your sales force, how do you avoid hiring from the 80%. I hired sales people for 15 years in the staffing industry. I was fortunate to hire some great people during those years but I willingly admit I hired my fair share of people whose performance was mediocre. If you are going merely on “gut instinct” more times than not you are probably fishing in the shallow end of the pond and hiring that 80% you are trying to avoid.
Here is a list of traits I look for when hiring great sales people.
* Character – You can’t teach it or coach it but you know when someone has it. A successful sales person is always honest and demonstrates a high level of integrity.
*Empathy for your customer. When you sincerely care about your customers success you will in turn be successful.
*Self-Disciplined – Must be above average in determination and motivation.
*Intensely goal oriented – They must be willing to set goals and track metric’s to achieve them
*Does not take rejection personally – Sales people will hear the word no more than yes. They can’t take that personally.
*Intense ambition to succeed
When you interview candidates ask behavioral based questions to uncover whether they have the character traits you are looking for. For instance, ask the candidate to give you an example of some personal goals they have set for themselves, and what they have done to achieve them. Remember you can teach someone about your industry but you cannot teach them intangibles.
It’s always tempting to hire a “plug-n-play” sales rep, but you still need to make sure you are evaluating them on the character traits they need to have to be successful. Keep in mind when looking at experienced sales reps the frequency of job moves they’ve made and the length at each position. Are they a grass is always greener person, or are they willing to stick with you through tough times. When evaluating frequency, you should consider how many different competitors have they represented, and are their contacts beginning to get weary of them constantly selling their new company as the best at fulfilling their needs.
When we take on an assignment to find a sales person we’re evaluating their background and skill set first to ensure they will be a good fit for the position. Secondly, we dig deep into the candidate’s character traits to ensure they have all the intangibles that make up a top-notch sales person. Finally, we ask colleagues and clients within our industry to try and confirm their book of business and reputation. Following all three of these steps will give you the best chance of hiring top notch producers.