Recently I had the pleasure of speaking at SalesHacker Midwest here in Chicago. It was a dynamic mix of salespeople and sales leaders – B2B sellers in a variety of industries. All were there to learn and hone their craft, and it was great to see a group of people so dedicated to the task.
While I spoke about LinkedIn Hacks for 2017 and it’s updated, trimmed-down platform, I learned a number of things that day about relationship-building, scaling sales teams, and more. But I wanted to discuss one idea that really resonated. People are always asking me, “What do you look for in a great sales rep?”
“Selling isn’t telling. Selling is asking questions.” – Brian Tracy
One of my first responses is always written and verbal communication skills. Ask to see prospecting, sales-writing samples, and ask them to role-play their current company overview with you as the prospect. Would you buy from them?
After that, my answers tend to vary depending on the role, industry, etc. One of the speakers at the conference had three more must-haves. Going forward, I will include the following in my list of desired attributes of strong sales representatives:
You want people who are still hungry to learn and who show this by asking questions. One of my favorite sales sayings has always been, “Selling isn’t telling. Selling is asking questions.” – Brian Tracy. You don’t want a show-and-tell exercise from someone who has seen and heard it all.
In the age of social media, selfies and self-interest are at an all-time high. During the interview, is the candidate droning on about themselves, or are they creating a genuine dialogue with you? Did they come with a list of questions to ask about the job?
Self-awareness is an important component of emotional intelligence. Try asking, “Can you give me three words to describe yourself?” and piggyback it with, “What is a common misconception people have about you?” Contemplate the answers as this self-perceived misconception could end-up ringing true and shining through in the end, in a good way or a bad way.
There’s a gray area in sales between confidence and cockiness, and humility is an important quality to have. If you consider the last two traits, they go hand-in-hand. If a candidate is asking good questions, they are showing interest in others, not just themselves.
Being self-aware allows someone to recognize when they overstep the line toward arrogance and keep themselves in check.
Again, the SalesHacker Conference offered many lessons, but this is what stuck for me. If you have the time-consuming, difficult job of hiring salespeople, focus on these four areas: Communication Skills, Curiosity, Self-Awareness, and Humility. If you ask good questions around these traits, you will get a feel for this person and how they may or may not fit into your culture and excel as one of your salespeople.