Few experienced sales managers will say that hiring and retaining successful salespeople is easy. Statistics back this up. For instance, Harvard Business Review estimated that most organizations suffer an average yearly turnover rate of salespeople that falls between 25 to 30 percent. In fact, many companies spend more to recruit and hire sales talent than they spend on hiring for any other departments. High turnover hurts budgets because of lost productivity and replacement costs.
Essential Characteristics of the Salespeople You Should Hire
For your own sales department, you should work to minimize turnover and increase productivity by hiring salespeople with the right qualities:
Communication, Teamwork, and Organization Skills
Successful salespeople don't necessarily have to be great orators. Most sales will involve two-way communication, so they should be should be decent conversationalists. Sales departments need employees who possess good oral and written communication skills to handle meetings, phone calls, and emails.
Since most companies don't expect to make sales with just one initial contact, salespeople need to have the organizational skills that will allow them to follow through with repeated contacts and communicate with other salespeople and contacts from other departments. They should also work well with other team members. Look for people who understand that everybody looks good when the team looks good.
The Ability to Ask the Right Questions
New and unskilled salespeople may believe that exposition closes sales. Actually, great salespeople learn to interview their prospects to fully understand their needs. They don't make speeches as often as they participate in conversations. They elicit responses to listen more than they talk. When salespeople can ask the right questions in order to answer them, sales can practically close themselves.
During hiring interviews, look for candidates who ask relevant questions about those things that your company needs. When asked follow-up questions, they should be able to explain how their talent can help satisfy those requirements. If the candidate lacks the relevant experience, he or she should express a willingness to acquire it. People with the aptitude for sales will appear genuinely interested in what you have to say and a willingness to please.
Creative and Mentally Nimble
You can help salespeople develop certain skills, so it's fair to say that great salespeople truly are made and not born. At the same time, an often unpredictable profession like sales requires a certain amount of creativity and mental flexibility that more routine jobs may not. Salespeople need to solve problems, deal with disruptions, and offer innovative solutions. While training helps, some people thrive in an uncertain environment better than others do.
To help assess these qualities during an interview, you might develop some questions that allow the candidate to tell you about events during past jobs or schooling that required some quick thinking and innovation. Hopefully, the prospect will have some prideful stories to tell about occasions when their quick thinking and mental agility saved the day.
Passion and Persistence
Most salespeople would never want any other career, but even the best ones have tough days. Clients cancel big meetings and call with complaints about orders. Sometimes, gaining cooperation from other departments presents a challenge. The best salespeople truly believe in their company's products and services as a way to solve their clients’ problem in the best way possible. They also display a certain mental toughness that allows them to run through a few "NOs" until they get to a "YES."
If you read our previous article which showcased examples of great salespeople, you will see that two qualities that they all shared were persistence and passion. As you interview sales candidates, you might try to discern how they react to frustration, handle situations diplomatically, and seem eager for challenges.
Essential Sales Tools
You invest a lot in hiring and developing the best salespeople. ConnectLeader helps make your sales teams even more successful. Learn more about ConnectLeader’s sales engagement solution.