There’s a good reason why so many companies spend a lot of money on keeping their sales team members happy: Hiring a salesperson is a serious and risky business. More than a few companies have seen their sales momentum halted, even reversed, after hiring the wrong person.
Finding a good sales candidate requires that the hiring manager look for a total package: Charm, good looks and a silver tongue are all useful, to a degree, but if these qualities aren’t backed up by ethics, drive, intelligence and a willingness to actually serve the customer, the rep isn’t going to develop any lasting clients.
Here are some characteristics that make up a great sales candidate:
A good sales candidate is someone who is willing to keep trying, even when faced with multiple obstacles. Instead of getting discouraged after a failure, he figures out what went wrong and tries again.
Mary Kay Ash is an example of an entrepreneur who has created an empire from knowing how to sell, well. “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, “Make me feel important.” Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life” she says. A great salesperson is always selling, even when they are not.
Conscientiousness: Salespeople have to be able to work independently and be highly organized with all of their customers.They must be industrious, achievement oriented, always pursuing the high goals and standards they have set for themselves.
2. Engaging Personality
Lets face it “All things being equal, people will do business with a friend; all things being unequal, people will still do business with a friend” claims Mark McCormack. We all like to do business with the people we like and trust. And really great sales people have a way to connect to everyone. They are fun, caring, memorable and have a way to make everyone they connect with feel empowered and validated.
Extraversion: Salespeople must be confident, passionate, and able to speak to anyone at anytime, about anything related to the product or service they are selling.
Sales candidates who can think on their feet are going to better than those who can’t. But salespeople need multiple types of intelligence: Good communication skills and reasoning ability are important, but so is social intelligence. As Geoffery James notes in Sell Like a Pro: 6 Easy Rules it’s easy for a salesperson to kill a sale by preemptively addressing objections that a customer never actually raised.
Problem Solver: Salespeople need to have the ability to navigate multiple clients, find solutions to problems, and get to the decision makers, faster.
4. Good Listener, Good Learner
Learning and listening go hand and hand. A successful salesperson listens to his customers and learns what they need. He also listens to feedback from colleagues and superiors and is constantly improving his skills. A great salesperson knows that using technology to serve their customers and potential customers will make them stand out amongst the competition.
Social Media is a great way to ‘listen’ to what people are saying and a great way to ‘learn’ about problems. “When a potential customer complains they are frustrated, they are far more likely to engage with a sales person who responds to their frustration than a cold call pitching a product.”1.
And even during sales calls, salespeople are listening more than talking, and learning more than educating. They are perpetual students on the job and have the ability to take the information provided to then motivate a sale.
Agreeable: A good salesperson can be very agreeable in order to please their clients, be empathetic to their needs and put the customer first. However, they must not be overly agreeable to the point that they cannot handle rejection.
5. Motivated to Serve the Customer
Getting a one-time sale isn’t nearly as tough as developing an ongoing relationship with a customer who buys over and and over again. Sales pros develop traits such as self-belief, creativity and a strong business ethic so that customers trust and want to do business with them.
Erica Feidner, the worlds leading piano sales lady, was able to capture a market that had only slight motivation to learn how to play, let alone purchase an expensive piano. Her motivation to care for the customer led to $40 million in Steinways sales. ”This is not because they feel pressured by her but because after they meet her many soon find themselves in the grip of musical ambitions they never knew they harbored. These ambitions often include buying a specific piano that they feel they can no longer live without, even if it strains both their living rooms and their bank accounts.”1. She not only served the customers appetite to purchase a great item, but stoked their confidence to become a musician.
Openness: A great salesperson has mid to high level of openness (creativity). They need to be at least somewhat creative to come up with clever ways around the much unappreciated sales calls. They are able to come up with solutions and unique ways to help their current or potential customers. They have a keen ability to ‘think outside the box’.
What’s been your experience with hiring salespeople? Have you ever found someone who looked like a winner, only to have them turn out to be a flop? Ever hired someone who you weren’t sure about, yet they surprised you with their success?