One of the questions I am most frequently asked is how can you tell who is going to make a great salesperson? How can you tell? What are the characteristics to look for in a person that will indicate that this person is bound for greatness in sales? What are you going to look for in that person that will give you some kind of guarantee that he or she is going to work out for you in the end?
Well, as the age-old adage says, “You need to know where you want to go in order to get there.” And the same is true when looking for that great sales candidate. You have to develop a very clear and concise image of the type of person that you want to hire.
This can be tricky because salespeople, especially the experienced ones, know how to sell, and often they know how to sell themselves. They can be slick; they can be glib and most of all they can be charming enough to get anyone to hire them. But in the end, we all know that being slick, and glib, and charming are not all they are cracked up to be when it comes to a great salesperson. These characteristics are just the icing on the cake, just the cover of the book and often nothing more than apiece of fluff when it comes to what it really takes to be a successful salesperson.
The most important thing, the first step to take when looking for a new salesperson, is to develop a template for the ideal salesperson. This template should take all aspects of what you are looking or in that salesperson. While always remember the two most important laws of hiring.
Be slow to hire and quick to fire. In other words, be very slow and deliberate when you hire any professional, Take your time, vet the person completely and interview, interview and interview. On the same token if you made a mistake and the person is not working out, then get rid of
them quickly because the longer you take the more it will hurt your company.
Hire for passion you can teach the product, but you can’t teach passion. A truly passionate and energetic person can and will sell anything and do it will. The love of the hunt, the hunt of the order is what drives a great salesperson and that cannot be learned. Some industry is preferred
but we can hire for passion and teach the product. Especially the “Your Company’s Way”
Now below are some of the characteristics for creating the Ideal Salesperson Template.
Part One: Finding the right sales professionals
Ideal sales candidate. Develop an ideal salesperson profile including:
* Marketing courses
* Technical experience
* Sales experience
* Marketing experience
* Deep hunger to succeed
* Willing to learn and grow with a company
Part two: Hiring the right people
Create a job description that perfectly describes what we want the salesperson to do including:
* Goals and objectives
* New account development
* Cold calling lead generation
* Technical knowledge of your company’s technology
* Daily, weekly, monthly and annual responsibilities
Develop a compensation package that is interesting and exciting and motivating to the salespeople and also drives them to provide your company with the business we want.
Part three: The all-important interview questions
Here is a series of interview questions that I have developed over the years. These are meant to really probe in the interviewee’s character. I have used these questions in one form or another and they work. They might seem tedious but remember hiring good people should be tedious. Just think of all the negative repercussions when you choose and then hire the wrong salesperson. It can in the end be a costly disaster. So be careful, take your time and once the question is asked, be quiet and give the candidate enough
time to answer the question. Remember this is a case where silence can be golden.
* How did you get started in this business?
* How long had you been in the business before you realized what it took to be successful
* What separates you from the other candidates?
* What kind of formal education have you had?
* What kind of informal (school of hard knocks education) have you had?
* Do you think people can be trained to be successful?
* What influences from the past have been continuing motivators in your life?
* What were your original goals when you were getting started?
* Was there a turning point? A time in your life when you could have gone either way? Why did you pick the route you took?
* Have you ever had what you would consider a significant failure in business? What did you learn from that?
* How many hours do you work a week?
* How do you use your leisure time?
* When and how do you plan your day
* Do you follow a system when making decisions? If so, what is it?
* Let’s assume you are hired on Monday, what are you going to do the first week? The first month? The first six months?
* What do you feel is the major hindrance an individual has in achieving his or her potential?
* How did she or he overcome that obstacle?
* Which of your accomplishments do you find the most satisfying?
* What would you regret not having accomplished before you die?
* Where would you like to be in your career in one year? In five years?
* What do you think are the advantages and weaknesses of our company in this market?
* At the end of your first year with us, describe what you will consider a successful year?
And finally, have a number of other people in the company interview the candidate, from people from your management team, to those who will be her peers, the people at various levels in your organization. And then get together and discuss the candidate before deciding.
Follow these rules carefully and you will always hire the right people the first time. It’s only common sense.