As the business environment grows more challenging and competitive by the day, finding good salespeople is a top priority. But this pivotal role has always been a tough one to fill with the right person, and things are only getting tougher. According to recent CEB/Gartner research, 35% of sales managers couldn’t find qualified candidates for open sales professional positions, up from 24% in 2010. The upshot of this is that you’re not just competing against other companies for customers; you’re competing against them for top sales talent, too.
Against this backdrop, many sales managers are feeling the pressure to get someone — anyone — in that seat. Good enough seems close enough. And while it’s true that you can offer training, coaching and development opportunities for someone who’s not yet quite where you need them to be, there are some things that are harder to train for — and then there are some things you just can’t teach.
As you’re evaluating candidates for sales positions, here are five key qualities to look for. Use this as your checklist to gauge whether this person will be able to hit the ground running and thrive in your organization.
- They are excited about the opportunity to work at your company.
- They are committed to the hard, intelligent work it will take to become successful in growing a sales assignment.
- They are willing to commit to the long term.
- They are enthusiastic about learning all they can about (company) products and/or services.
- They have a demonstrated pattern of achievement.
- They possess the appropriate level of intelligence to be a continual learner.
- They have consistent growth in sales success, or they demonstrate that they have the ability to learn how to continually improve their sales skills and associated processes.
- They have good to exceptional interpersonal communication skills.
- They exude warmth through their words and actions.
- They’re interested in your company and this opportunity for the “right” reasons.
- They will work well with others in your company/department.
- They will work well with your customer base.
- Their words and behaviors indicate that their values are aligned with the people and culture of your organization.
- They’re coachable.
- They express sound business judgment.
- They either know or have the ability to learn how to assess a market and establish a direction.
- They either know or have the ability to learn how to ascertain contingent outcomes from both the customer and competitor.
- They either know or have the ability to learn to understand, uncover and sell solutions to the customer’s business objectives.
Interpersonal Communication Skills
- They show you that they are able to successfully exchange information, feelings and meaning.
- They have good to excellent listening skills.
- They communicate effectively verbally, non-verbally and in writing.
- They instill a level of trust and confidence so that others believe them and want to work with them.
- They have good to excellent EQ and the ability to continually learn to assess the non-verbal communication of others.
- They not only hear what has been said, but what has not been stated.
- They’re able to problem solve in a collaborative manner.
Filling the position with the wrong person is never the right answer. It will cost you a lot more in the long run than doing the work to find the salesperson who has the best chance to succeed in and for your organization. No matter how urgently you need to hire salespeople, don’t rush to make a bad hire!