Unsuccessful hires are one of the biggest pain points sales leaders experience. Some of us are really good at hiring, others could use a few pointers. The standard approach is to look for the most qualified candidate who fits in your budget and make an employment offer. It’s a “shoot from the hip and hope for the best” approach. Other sales leaders take a much more methodical approach; they have worked with successful reps and try to duplicate that. I’ve found that both of these approaches result in good and bad hires.
On the other hand, there are the sales leaders that seem to always find the best talent. They are the ones who aren’t afraid to bet on the dark horse over the Stanford grad and go with their gut. They are the leaders who vet the under-qualified person next to the experienced sales pro and consistently hire the best of the two.
Every day, I meet people with the ability to be my next winning hire. They have untapped potential and haven’t found exactly where they fit in an organization. Learning how to identify and hire those people is a skill worth learning. I’ve found that these under-qualified or inexperienced people tend to be appreciative, loyal, hardworking, and make you a lot of money.The simple truth is that sometimes hiring good team members isn’t about who’s the most qualified but instead is about who’s got chutzpah .
Last week I published a post that was shared by my CEO. He also added his own comments to it (see below). It’s great to know that he sees my background as an asset and something worth promoting. If you didn’t catch the post you can read it here.
…Colabo’s own – Joe Odell who has previously hunted drug lords as a captain in the US Coast Guard shares some of his insights regarding what B2B salespeople can learn from professional fishermen that separates those who consistently return with their boats full and those who have nothing to show for. – Yoav Dembak, CEO Colabo
Of course, sales leaders shouldn’t hire only under-qualified individuals, but they should never disregard an individual who is willing to learn and work hard. This is where I found success in my own sales career. I didn’t take a typical sales path. My path was more abstract and, to be honest, a bit of a roller coaster.
To sum it all up, university was a short experience for me. After 2 years, a few thousand in loans, and no direction on a major I jumped ship. I had a short stint slinging Prii (yes, that’s the official plural of Prius) off a car lot and did a season commercial fishing before getting shipped off to Bootcamp and spending four years in the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard was a great experience for me and a very fun life if you’re single, but once I was married it was too much for too little. So when I moved back home to California, I found a technology company that I wanted to work for. I was told, “We aren’t hiring right now, but we’re always hiring.” Typical, right? I convinced them to let me work for free as an intern until I proved I deserved to be paid – not the best close, but it got me in the door. By the end of the month I started getting a paycheck and although I was only there for two-thirds of the quarter, I won the Demand Generation Rep of the Quarter – an award based solely on results. I achieved this while balancing being a Coast Guard Reservist, a family man, and going to school full-time to finish my degree.
Needless to say, this was a really busy and difficult season of life but I learned a lot and my hustle paid off. Since then I’ve worked with a lot of sales reps, I’ve managed teams, I’ve hired qualified and under-qualified team members, and I’ve taken bets on a few dark horses. Not all have paid off but the ones that have are the top reps in their positions. They’re super loyal and made me look really smart. These standouts all had chutzpah and shared a few character traits.
Character Traits To Consider When Hiring
Authentic Personality – Being successful in sales is often directly related to the individual’s personality. Shy people just can’t cut it; it is key to look for individuals who are comfortable in their own skin and have an inviting presence when they walk into a room. I can usually tell exactly what type of person I’m interviewing based on the first few sentences out of their mouth. I look for a strong, confident introduction, well put together thoughts, and even a sense of humor.
Tip: Ask prospective hires if they know what emotional intelligence is. Being educated in their feelings is an asset and indicates their value for self-improvement, growth, and change.
Naturally an Active Listener – Anyone can read a script, what you need is a personable & intelligent rep on your phones. Active listening is the key to prospects feeling heard, understood, and that someone really wants to help them. You can tell how natural someone is at active listening by giving them the floor to ask you questions during an interview. If they are diving deeper into your answers by asking secondary questions, or rephrasing your answers, they’re actively listening. If they have no questions or are simply reading off a list they’re not a dark horse, they’re a Shetland Pony and you can’t fix that.
Contagious Character – Character is key with sales reps. Sales skills are learned and every company does it a little different. It’s key to look for individuals who are willing to learn but more importantly contribute to your company culture. My best hires didn’t conform to the company’s culture – they improved it. They should have the ability to inspire trust because without trust customers will not believe what they are saying. Sales character is also key because many sales positions require out of office work. You don’t want someone who slacks off or puts your company’s reputation on the line.
Curiosity – People who are curious thrive on solving problems and looking for the why and the how. Good salespeople are good problem solvers. Additionally, you’re looking for curiosity on a broad range of subjects. Hires with multiple interests have more areas to make a potential connection with people.
Have Granular Interests – Obviously, a potential hire’s background is important because you need someone who is able to understand the concepts, pain points, and solution that you are offering. However they don’t need to have experience in your field but instead, they should be able to display a granular understanding of a subject they have an interest in. This area could be sports, consumer technologies or, dare I say it, PokemonGo. They need to know it inside and out and hold an in-depth conversation about it. They may not be able to tell you about Dell’s recent acquisition but they can sure shoot the sh*t about where the best PokeStop is.
Thanks for reading, and of course, these are obviously my thoughts on this, so feel free to tell me your take or simply respond to this question: