Hiring A Sales Superstar: What We Are Looking For
“You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over the hurdles and break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you.”
“96% of all sales managers have NO formal interview training” this quote is excerpted from an article in Selling Power Magazine. WOW, what a scary statistic! Suddenly those “hiring horror stories” make absolute sense to me.
The funny thing is, that of all job titles, I firmly believe that a sales manager, if they were successful as a sales person, should be a FANTASTIC interviewer.
Think about it…
they would be skilled at asking questions and listening
they would understand how to dig in to any area that didn’t make sense or where information was lacking
they could piece together all the elements of the hiring process so they could make a well informed decision without sacrificing their gut instinct
they would have set questions they would ask of every candidate and not “wing it” or “shoot from the hip”
and most importantly they would know what makes a “qualified” candidate based on an established list of requirements
Well, we just named our poison didn’t we? Over the course of the next couple of posts we will examine the intricacies of interviewing and what every sales manager needs to do to minimize mistakes and make sure their next hire is a Sales Superstar!
First up, we will be discussing “what” we are looking for in a sales candidate. Let’s begin by distinguishing between skill sets (SS) and talent/traits (TT). Skill sets are learned behavior that we have mastered to one level or another based on repetition, ability and success. Talent and traits are things we are born with like being tall or running fast. Both SS’s and TT’s are important but TT’s are the determining factor of a successful superstar or an also-ran. This is because either you have these things or you don’t and if you have the right TT’s you can master EVERY skill set needed to be a success in sales.
The most important TT to have is DRIVE, the need to achieve something that nobody else can. Believe me, some people just don’t have this trait. You know these folks, they are likable enough people but many times will not push that extra inch to win.
A person with DRIVE wants to win at virtually everything they do. Video games, being the most well read, making more calls than their teammates you name it they want to be the best or as Anne Elbery, a friend of mine, says “why play it unless you are in it to win it”. That, in a nutshell, is how somebody with DRIVE thinks. Be the best at everything and if you come in second there are no moral victories only winners and losers. Isn’t this EXACTLY how you want a salesperson to think and act, always optimistic of a positive result and willing to work as hard as needed to make winning happen?
Next you should be looking for INTELLIGENCE. You can’t fake smart and there is no work around to stupid. This trait allows for the sales person to be an idea generator and to be astute enough to understand complicated concepts that could effect their success. It also gives them the ability to create and use a large word inventory and, as noted in Forbes Magazine, business executives possess one of the largest vocabularies in all professions. Sales people need to be able to learn and adapt in a verbal environment. The lack of this trait would hamper their efforts at basic communication much less closing the sale.
Being NATURALLY CURIOUS is the next trait they need. A sales person must absolutely HUNGER for information. They should always wonder how thnks work, why prospects do certain things and they should always be asking another question. Sales people who don’t ask questions are called order takers or worse… unemployable. Asking questions has got to be akin to breathing for sales people.
Questions like “why would you want that” or “what does that mean” or “how does that happen” should be asked by EVERY sales person on every sales call. Being NATURALLY CURIOUS means asking the needed questions that you have not even thought of yet because these are based on the situation you are in at the time.
And one more thing, if the person you are interviewing does not avail themselves of the opportunity to ask questions and learn everything they can about your company when you give them the chance… be afraid, be very afraid and don’t invite them back to continue the hiring process.
COMMUNICATION SKILLS is next on the list. Without this, no ideas are transferred to the customer and if they were it was probably done just bad enough to ensure a missed sale. People with good COMMUNICATION SKILLS are generally great influencers of opinion, a needed ability in sales wouldn’t you agree? They also rank very high in expressive spontaneity, the ability to think on one’s feet. This very important trait allows you to capitalize on all the time, work and money put into finding prospects if on no other level than making sure their first opinion of your company is a positive one.
The final trait you absolutely need to have in a candidate is GUTS. Your sales person has got to take chances to go for the brass ring and sometimes that means pushing past their comfort zone and that takes GUTS! This trait also helps a sales person to develop their emotional intelligence (thick skin). Most, if not all, average to bad sales people take rejection personally allowing a few bad calls or appointments to keep them down while providing a near endless supply of excuses. Sales people with GUTS simply dust themselves off and start over, then DRIVE kicks in and they don’t stop until they succeed.
That’s it for today! Look for these 5 traits in ALL your candidates. The ones who have them will be a source of pride and sales for years to come. Also look for these things in your existing staff and if you weren’t hiring maybe it is time to start…