Sales Empowerment Group Blog

Hiring Lesson from a 6-Year-Old – 'Straight from the Street Series' #2


When it comes time to find your next great sales all-star, one of the most frequent questions I hear on the street is, “What traits should I be looking for in a great sales rep?” Of course, there are a multitude of factors and complexities that go into answering this simple question. However, one of the more straightforward approaches I’ve seen comes from Gino Wickman’s book, Traction, in which he shares the three characteristics you should seek out when making any hire, and certainly your next sales hire:

  • Get it
  • Want it
  • Capacity 


Decoding the Crucial Employee Characteristics

Does your new employee get what the role is all about and what it requires? Do they actually want to do the job? Do they have the capacity and skill set to be effective? To me, “get it” and “capacity” are unquestionably important, but I’d consider these two table stakes. The trait that’s a little more nebulous to uncover in the interview process, but absolutely critical in sales, is whether or not the candidate “wants it.” Saying they want it is one thing. After all, who wouldn’t say that during an interview? Our job as sales leaders or hiring managers is to ask WHY they want it. Perhaps over-cited but nonetheless relevant, Simon Sinek sums up the importance of the why behind the what:

“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they'll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they'll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” 

When it comes to hiring sales talent, there’s a fourth characteristic I’d suggest lumping onto Gino’s list: curiosity. To understand the power of curiosity, we needn’t look any further than my six-year-old, and probably every six-year-old known to man. If you’ve ever gone toe-to-toe with a child in their unrelenting quest to understand “why?” it’s safe to say you likely lost and, at best, gave up. As exhausting as it may be when they’re six, it’s an extremely powerful quality for those who hold onto their curiosity when they become grown-up sales folks. The key is to come up with variations of the word “why,” as to avoid making the recipient of that question go absolutely insane.


How to Get the Right Results

Bottom line, if you want better results, look for those that not only get it, want it for the right reasons, and have the capacity to get job done, but also look for the curious one. As the gold miners used to say, so I’m told, “There’s hidden treasures in them thar hills.” The curious ones think outside the box, challenge what’s assumed, what’s expected, and what’s typical. They’re comfortable breaking off the script, taking ownership, and making things their own. “What if” and “imagine if” roll off their tongues just as easily as “why,” and lead them towards innovative thoughts and solutions to get the job done.

Those who are curious ask great questions. Those who ask great questions develop a better sense of empathy. Those who have empathy develop a better understanding of those they serve. Those who seek to serve create trust and inspire others to take action. Those who draw others to action generate results. And that’s what you were going for in the first place!


Curiosity Doesn’t Equal Simplicity

Fair warning, the curious ones aren’t always the easiest reps to manage. They’ll challenge your thinking, your approach, and your way of being today. They’re the opposite of your obedient rule followers who do whatever you ask, the way you ask them to do it. They’re far more unsettled that your laid back “Steady Eddie” who goes with the flow. However, if you’re in need of a change maker, a fresh perspective, and a spark to light a new fire on the team, embrace the curious new addition and give them room to breathe, encouragement to try, and freedom to fail until it works. When you do, you’ll be surprised at the results you achieve and the newfound energy that encapsulates your team. In the meantime, have patience with those “why” obsessed six-years-olds and be careful not to squash their inquisitiveness too soon. They just may be leading the pack at your company someday.

Looking for more tips to hire the right people for your team? Explore our online resources for advice on growing your business and developing the skills your company needs. 


This article is part of the “Straight From the Street” content series highlighting real customer challenges from real customers heard, you guessed it, straight from the street. We invite you to join the conversation, add your thoughts and be part of an active and vibrant community of dedicated sales professionals.

Tags: Talent Acquisition, Interview, Sales Success