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What to Look for When Hiring New Salespeople

Posted by Anna Adamczyk on Nov 19, 2015 8:44:00 AM

The hiring process for any position isn’t easy, but it can be especially challenging when looking for a seller. There’s usually not too much technical, concrete knowledge one must have in order to be a good seller, so how can you assess someone’s personality as to whether or not they’d be a powerful salesperson at your company?

According to Steve W. Martin’s studies, there are several traits that potentially make salespeople successful, such as:

  • Modesty
  • Conscientiousness
  • Achievement Orientation
  • Curiosity
  • Lack of Gregariousness
  • Lack of Discouragement
  • Lack of Self-Consciousness

All of these make sense, after the fact. Knowing this might help you determine whether that seller who’s been struggling for a while will ever actually make it, but these traits don’t necessarily help you when you’re interviewing to fill an open position.

Man holding out hand to shake

So what are you supposed to be looking for when hiring a new seller?

1. Past Experience

This doesn’t mean you should be looking for someone with x years of sales experience. In fact, you should aim to step outside that box and look beyond traditional “requirements”. Many individuals can be successful salespeople, even if they’ve never sold before.

When looking at past experience, ask questions that relate to how they handled certain situations in their prior positions to determine more about their personality. It’s really about past life and career experience.

Are they driven and ambitious? What motivates them? Are they easily deterred? Did they have interest and enthusiasm for what they were working on in the past? Do they network and connect easily with others?

Finding out the answers to questions like these by listening to a candidate speak about their past is essential. Don’t limit yourself to only those with x amount of sales experience, after all, some of those people could have been mediocre sellers. It’s more important to focus on the indicators of success, than an arbitrary amount of past experience.

2. How Well They Sell Themselves

The hiring process is essentially a sales transaction. You are the customer and buyer, while a potential candidate is the product and the seller.

How well are they selling themselves?

If you’ve been interviewing someone who seems extremely impressive and has many stories to back up their own greatness, you might think they’re perfect. But think about it as a customer, have they just focused on themselves or have they truly demonstrated how they’d offer value to you as a buyer? How will you be benefiting from the service they’re selling?

Job candidates sometimes think the entire process is about them. While they are an essential piece of the puzzle, it’s really about what they will offer to your company.

Listen for whether they’ve done their research and can present you with specific ways that they will add value to your organization. This will give you insight into their general selling style. Are they simply a tornado that talks the talk and strong-arms prospects into closing sales, or do they ask questions and offer solutions that make customers eager to buy?

3. Organizational Fit

Typically, sellers are competitive by nature. Whether that’s among their peers, or simply with themselves, they strive to be the best. In most cases, having a competitive sales mentality is a good thing, however, you don’t want to bring on someone new who’s too aggressive and then disturbs a previously balanced team.

Gauging what kind of environment your workplace is and which kinds of people will be successful in that setting is crucial. Will you end up having the right person in the right seat?

Is the only true motivator for your candidate monetary or do they have a passion for what they’d be selling? Have you defined the responsibilities they will be unconditionally accountable for?

This is the part of the process where you have to ensure you know what you need and can clearly convey that. Often job descriptions are so convoluted that prospective applicants can only guess what they’re getting into.

Be upfront about what it’s like to work for your company and how their role affects the business. Expose job candidates early and often to your core values, purpose, and focus. This will help you attract the ideal person for the job and will send the wrong people in the other direction.

Every company is made up of a team of people talented in different areas with different skill sets. The hiring process is not easy, and getting the right people in the right seats is a simple yet overlooked concept. If you approach the hiring process with a clearly defined role, responsibilities, and shared company vision then it will make the process quick and painless.

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Topics: sales advice, hiring salespeople