10 Signs You Should Absolutely Hire That Salesperson

Written by Casey Murray

I’ve interviewed more than 250 people for sales positions in the last 10 years.

Although every top candidate has different strengths, certain trends come up again and again. I’ve learned to look out for these signs during interviews -- if a potential salesperson demonstrates most of them, they’re likely to be a great performer. (If they have all of them, their success is almost certain.)

Sales managers, use this list to determine whom to hire.

1) Asks Great Questions

The quality of a salesperson’s questions during the interviews is a best and clear indicator of their ability to succeed. A good question goes beyond facts the candidate could have easily learned by looking at your company website or LinkedIn page and delves into what’s needed to do well in this role.

Here are examples of questions in this category:

  • What is the revenue for this territory for the last three years? Why did the last person leave this territory?
  • Who is the number one competitor that you lose to, and what is being done to address any gaps?
  • How long is the average sales cycle? What is the current renewal rate? How many customers have multi-year contracts?
  • Do you pay salespeople commission on support renewals?
  • What is the sales manager’s style?
  • What is the most money a salesperson has earned on your team?
  • What is your average close rate? What is the average follow-on revenue for install accounts?
  • When you lose a deal, why do you lose?
  • What is the barrier to entry for another company to offer a similar solution to yours?
  • What mechanisms are in place to protect the Intellectual property of this company (patents, trademarks, etc.)?
  • What did the highest paid rep earn last year? How much did their quota increase this year?

2) Responds to New Information

It’s a positive sign if the candidate asks a question that relates to information they just learned. This shows they’ll be engaged and curious during meetings with prospects. An example would be: “You mentioned that the company recently hired a bunch of support engineers. Has there been an uptick in support tickets?”

3) Reaches Out Before the Interview

Reaching out to an interviewer before the scheduled interview shows a high level of confidence. If they ask whether there’s anything specific they should prepare -- and go even further by presenting a few topics they hope to discuss -- they’re definitely above average. Asking about the appropriate dress code and for the names of everyone they’ll be meeting implies they do their homework.

4) Researches You and Your Company

A good candidate has done more than just look at your LinkedIn profile. They have done things like:

  • Researched people at the company in the position they’re applying for
  • Read online reviews of the company on Glassdoor
  • Looked up reviews from Gartner or Forrester to see where your solution rates

Exceptional candidates will also review the financial health of the company and research the funders, amount of debt, and any planned discussion of future fund raising or IPOs.

5) Treats every employee as part of the evaluation process

Good candidates treat HR and administrative staff as a vital part of the interview experience. They recognize the process of setting up the meeting, exchanging emails, returning phone calls, sharing documents, and coordinating the onsite visit give valuable insight into what this person will be like to work with in the future.

6) Shows Good Body Language

Body language drives a lot of non-verbal communication. Look for candidates who are confident, maintain an upright posture, and make enough eye contact.

7) Plays Conversational Tennis

Good interviewees understand the cadence of the conversation and know when to cut answers short and when to re-engage the interviewer with a question. These discussions should not be one-sided. A candidate who can read you well will also read your customers well and recognize when to speak and when to listen.

8) Teaches

Great candidates have strong opinions and are willing to share their views. A candidate once shared with me how much value he saw in the Challenger Sales method and asked if I was familiar with the concept. He attributed this book to his early sales success

9) Knows Their Greatest Non-Work Accomplishment

Great salespeople have accomplishments outside of work that demonstrate the same skills they use to succeed at work. Asking a candidate to share their greatest accomplishment gives you a window into how they plan, research, and execute their long-term goals.

10) Asks Uncomfortable Questions

Showing the courage to ask a hard question demonstrates high confidence and foreshadows how the rep will represent the company in the field.

If a candidate possesses eight to 10 of these characteristics, I recommend hiring them, if of course, they have the hard and more importantly the soft skills needed to succeed in sales.  To be sure that the candidate has the soft skills you require, click here to learn more about our Award-Winning Sales Assessment.  We offer 3 different versions, depending on the role you need to fill:  Salesperson, Sales Manager or Sales Director/VP.

You're Afraid to Sell Because You Think There is Hope

Posted by Dave Kurlan 

It may have been in episode 4 or 5, in season 1.  It was definitely in the HBO series Band of Brothers.  A soldier was telling an officer that after the drop into Normandy, he simply hid in a ditch.  The officer asked if he knew why and he replied, "Because I was scared!"  The officer said, "You were scared because you thought there was hope.  The sooner you can accept that you're already dead, the sooner you can function as a soldier."

Think about that statement - not just its war implications, but also its life, and of course, sales implications.

Some people worry constantly about troubled love ones until that trouble causes their death.  The worrying ends because in those cases, death eliminates the fear.

In sales, we certainly don't want salespeople to have a defeatist attitude - nothing could be worse than that.  But on an opportunity by opportunity basis, there is tremendous power in believing we have already lost, or that we cannot possibly win this deal or account.

Why?

In battle, if we believe we are already dead, then what's the worst that can happen?  If we are already living the worst that can happen - death - then we won't be afraid, we won't be tentative, and we will do not some, but all of the things we were trained to do.  We'll fight!

In sales, if we believe we have already lost, then what's the worst that can happen?  If we are already living the worst that can happen -  we lost - then we won't be afraid, we won't be tentative, and we will do not some, but all of the things we were trained to do.  We'll sell!

"We'll sell" means that we'll ask all of those good, tough, timely questions that salespeople don't always ask; qualify more thoroughly than ever before, and not give in to the pressure of an early demo, presentation or proposal until the milestones in our process tell us that it's appropriate. 

Most salespeople fail to achieve because of their fear, but if we can eliminate the fear, only a lack of selling skills would hold them back and those can be taught.  Sure, it can take 8 months to a year to train and coach salespeople to master consultative selling.  But that's a hell of a lot better that the 2-3 years it can take when all of their fears still prevent them from even trying what they are being taught.

Pop culture, especially a movie that tells a true story, can provide a better context for change than when we map out steps and teach.

You won't get this deal, so stop being afraid.  Do the things you've been afraid to do because you don't have anything to lose!

Are We in Control of Our Decisions?

What’s the one thing every salesperson struggles with?

Objections? Prospect’s fear of buying?

Or perhaps, their inability to make a decision?

Because, as it turns out, we’re not that good at making decisions after all. For example, when unable to make a call, we often select the default choice, regardless of what it is!

In this fantastic talk, behavioral economist and author Dan Ariely explains how we decide and shows examples how we can be manipulated into making a specific choice.

PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL

Why do our headaches persist after we take a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a fifty-cent aspirin? Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save twenty-five cents on a can of soup?

When it comes to making decisions in our lives, we think we're making smart, rational choices. But are we?

In this newly revised and expanded edition of the groundbreaking New York Times bestseller, Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, we consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They're systematic and predictable—making us predictably irrational.

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