Every single area of a business is essential to contributing to the overall picture; this much most business owners can agree on. However, there is one particular area of business that could perhaps be considered the first amongst equals: the sales department.
It is not stretching reality to suggest that the performance of your sales department can make or break your company. Even if every other area of your company is running perfectly – bills are paid on time by the accounts team, your customer service team deal with any complaints in record time, and your IT staff maintain your business systems and network so well that downtime is almost unheard of – then without a matching strong performance in sales, your company will likely flounder.
Given the above, it is obvious that business owners such as yourself have to be absolutely confident that they have the right sales staff in place – which places all the more onus on ensuring that your sales staff recruitment techniques are top notch. In an effort to assist you with this goal, below, we’ve assembled a list of five qualities for which you will want to keep an eye out when considering candidates for any sales vacancy your company may have in future…
#1 – A calm attitude
In pop culture, salespeople are often characterized as “go-getters” – big personalities who will do whatever it takes to clinch a sale; a stereotype that was popularised by The Apprentice and TV shows of a similar nature. However, the ability to remain calm is actually far more important in a salesperson; you need your staff to be able to think quickly under pressure, so that they can correct course when a potential sale appears to be going in the wrong direction, or maximize a sales opportunity that appears to be going very well.
#2 – Problem-solving
As briefly touched on above, sales staff have to be able to rescue a sale that seems to be going south. In addition to remaining calm, your sales staff will therefore also need to be expert problem solvers. They need to be able to pinpoint why a sale is struggling and, most importantly of all, how it can be rescued from that point on. There are a number of ways to assess problem-solving abilities during the interview; if a candidate performs well in a high-pressure situation like an interview, you can be confident they will do the same when working for your company.
#3 – Competitiveness
Some people thrive on competition; others find it to be overwhelming and counterproductive – and when hiring sales staff, you definitely need to find individuals that fit into the former category. Working in sales is inherently competitive, especially if you offer performance incentives. There’s no obvious way to check if someone is competitive, so it’s usually best to just directly ask the question – you should be able to tell from the tone of the candidate’s voice if they genuinely find competition exciting and energizing, or if they are simply saying they are competitive as they think that’s what you want to hear.
#4 – Experience with the systems you rely on
Selling is often referred to as an “art”; something that relies on the personality of the individual and their innate ability to connect with customers in order to persuade them to buy. However, while historically sales may have relied primarily on the power of the personality of individual salespeople, modern selling is very different indeed. Nowadays, selling is far more streamlined and data-driven, so ask candidates if they have experience using your company’s sales automation CRM and similar important systems. The more familiar a candidate is with the systems you rely on to achieve results, the more likely they are to hit the ground running if you do hire them.
#5 – Humility
A surprise inclusion, given that any sales candidate will almost certainly be trying to “sell” themselves during the recruitment process, but one that is nevertheless important. Humility is an important trait; sales staff have to be able to understand their own failings, so that these can be addressed in the future. Try asking a candidate what their biggest weakness is, and pay close attention to candidates who list a genuine weakness – not a classic “weakness that could actually be a virtue”, such as perfectionism. If a candidate is willing to admit that they are not perfect, then they are more likely to be able to constantly examine their sales approach and make tweaks if something isn’t working – much to the benefit of your company.
The performance of your sales staff is critical to the health of your business, and hopefully, focusing on hiring employees with the qualities described above will allow you to hire new members to your sales team – and subsequently catapult your company to greater success in future.