Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Perfect Sales Candidate

A friend of mine was recently turned down for a position selling web hosting services for a well-known mega online retailer.  This was after four interviews and presentation in front of over 100 current employees in the west coast headquarters.

Again, a sales position.  Not a management or executive position.

In my experience in sales, I've seen the pendulum swing from "we need people with the technical knowledge to sell our products" to "we need people who can just sell anything" -- and then the pendulum swings back again the other way.

Who is a perfect sales candidate for your company? 

Do they need to be someone poached from the competitor so they come with a book of business?
Do they need to be someone who could sell a ketchup popcicle to a woman in white gloves? (Tommy Boy reference by the way)
Do they need to be a "self starter" that "takes initiative" and is "highly competitive".
Do they need to be someone who can "talk the talk" of nuances of the products.

We all have a different picture of the profile of a good salesperson.  Some of us think 20 years of direct industry experience is the deciding factor.  Some of us think its the fast-talking, objection deflector car salesman type.

Think about the last time you bought a product with the assistance of a person (in any type of position) that made you feel good about the purchase.  Was it the style or approach? Was it the technical knowledge?

I argue the best sales person is able to transform themselves from technical guru to pain funnel expert when needed.  Bottom line, this takes a high level of emotional intelligence to be able to pick up on the cues from the customer of what type of sales person you need to be at that moment.

The problem is that you can't find the out in a series of interviews or a presentation.  You also shouldn't base your decision mostly on the technical aptitude of the candidate, because you can teach "technical", you can't teach emotional intelligence. 

Interviews should be a way to mitigate the risk of your decision, but there will always be an inherent risk in hiring a new salesperson. (that's also why, you should do everything you can to keep good salespeople by the way)

The best indicator of a great salesperson is the body of work and the variety of life experience.
Use this as your judge, and take the leap. 

Your best laid plans for finding and hiring the perfect candidate are going to be wrecked by countless salespeople that disappoint you in the future. Did you think your close rate on hiring great sales people was going to be 100% because you've created the perfect hiring process?

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