Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at SalesHacker Midwest, here in Chicago. It was a dynamic mix of sales people and sales leaders - B2B sellers in a variety of industries. All were there to learn and hone their craft and it was a great to see a group of people 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. Because, people are always asking me... "What do you look for in a great sales rep?"
One of my first responses is always written and verbal communication skills. To test for that, ask to see prospecting/sales-writing samples and/or 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 (whose name is escaping me now) had three more must-haves. Going forward, I will include these in modern-day attributes of strong sales representatives.
Looking at the first one, of my favorite sales sayings has always been "Selling isn't telling. Selling is asking questions" - Brian Tracy. In the interview, is the candidate droning on about themselves? Alternatively, are they saying a lot, with few words, and then creating a dialogue with you? Did they come with a list of questions to ask you about the job? In the age of social media, selfies and self-interest are at an all time high. I want people who are still hungry to learn by asking questions, not show-and-telling me how they've seen and heard it all.
Next, self-awareness is one component of emotional intelligence. A couple questions I always like to ask are, "Can you give me three words to describe yourself?" and piggyback it with, "What is a common misconception people have about you?" Contemplate the answer, as this self-perceived misconception could end-up ringing true and shining through in the end, in a good way or bad way...
Lastly… Humility. There's a gray area in sales between confidence and cockiness. If you consider the last two traits, they go hand-in-hand. If you are asking good questions, you are showing interest in others, not yourself. Being self-aware, you can be cognizant of when you overstep the line toward arrogance, and keep yourself in check.
Again, many lessons learned last Wednesday at the SalesHacker conference, but this is what stuck for me - hope it helps you. If you have the time-consuming, difficult job of hiring sales people, focus on those four areas - Communication Skills, Curiosity, Self-Awareness, & Humility. If you can ask good questions around those traits, you can get a gut-check to determine if this person fits into the culture and could excel in the position for which they are interviewing.