Sales people can make or break a business, which makes your sales recruiting function highly critical to your company’s success.
Because sales as a whole relies heavily on soft skills, such as communication and teamwork, as well as hard skills, such as industry expertise, recruiting for this function can be challenging. You can’t identify a good sales person by resume keywords alone. A cookie-cutter approach to recruiting simply won’t cut it.
To help you better understand what separates great sales candidates from merely good ones, we broke down the top five qualities top sales recruiting firms look for in their next sales hire.
Great sales people have one thing in common: an infectiously positive attitude, which correlates with motivation and ultimately success.
To measure a sales candidate’s attitude, ask questions related to tenacity—someone who doesn’t give up after the first no. Find out how they felt when a deal when south at the last minute—a situation many sales people can relate to. What did they do to overcome the situation? What did they learn? You can also ask about the toughest deal they closed: what did they do to win over the client? This also provides insights into their sales process, as well as their sense of strategic thinking.
Top-performing sales people are driven by the need to achieve and win. How else can they meet tough quotas month after month?
As sales recruiters, we often review our candidates’ awards and career wins, in addition to their experience. Ask your candidate what they’re most proud of accomplishing. What accolades have they collected over their career? Top performers should be able to articulate how they met—and exceeded—goals and quotas. Outside the boardroom, athletic or academic accomplishments may also serve as indicators of drive, especially if you’re considering entry-level candidates with little experience in sales.
Sales is a people-oriented role: successful sales people drive revenue by building relationships, networking, and winning client confidence every day.
To dig deep on your candidate’s people skills, focus on questions around customer relationships and communication. These are especially important for consultative sales roles with long sales cycles: building a relationship with the client and understanding their needs is crucial to closing the sale. You can ask how they build rapport with a client, especially across different personality types.
You can’t close the deal if you and the client are on two different pages.
Of course, communication styles are specific to the individual, as well as the sales cycle. One-call closes often involve intense in-person or telephone conversations with a client, while longer sales cycles call for a combination of written and verbal communications, such as proposals and presentations. Exploring your candidate’s typical style of communicating will help you understand how that person will mesh with your sales process.
High-performing sales people operate on a foundation of integrity: without integrity, it’s impossible to earn your customers’ trust.
Just as you qualify sales candidates for skill sets and experience, you must also vet them for cultural fit and values, which requires asking questions beyond the candidate’s resume. Ask whether their integrity was ever questioned by a client or their employer: what was the situation, how did they address it, and what was the result? You can also ask situational questions, such as when they last walked away from a sale and why.