Sales is an art, science, and something that every company depends on in order to survive. You can have the best product and service in the world, but if you don’t know how to sell it, it doesn’t matter.
Here are ten questions to ask when considering a salesperson for your company.
First, are they teachable? It doesn’t matter how good a salesman is; if he or she doesn’t have a humble, teachable attitude, they will be an absolute cancer on your team and bring down your organization. Bad character poisons good skills every time. Who cares if you have someone with talent if they don’t have the humility and willingness to buy into your vision and understand things from your perspective? That’s like having the most majestic and powerful force in the world… except he runs away from you every time you try to get close to him.
If you have to pick between a very talented but conceited salesperson and a somewhat less talented but humble and teachable salesperson, it’s a no-brainer. Character wins every time.
Second, are they persistent? If you’re dealing with a salesperson who crumbles after the first “no” from a prospect, you have a problem on your hands. The art of sales is the art of moving from “no” to “yes,” and that means that any salesman worth their weight in gold is going to embrace being told “no,” and not wither away. A good salesperson has resilience and stamina, and is willing to keep asking questions and learning about the prospect’s need when they don’t get the answer they want the first time.
Third, do they understand your product or service? This is where you were just as much responsible for results as your salesperson. If you bring on a salesperson, throw them a couple PDFs, and expect them to go out and get results, your shooting both you and them in the foot. As a leader, it’s on you to equip your salespeople with everything they need, top to bottom, to understand your products, and to follow up with them to make sure they are fully competent to answer questions. But at the same time, your salesperson needs to have a willingness to learn and the hunger to become competent in your product or service as well. If you’ve done everything you can to equip your salesperson, but they are just winging it and aren’t taking your product or service seriously, they will have a very tough time with prospects.
Fourth, are they willing to adjust? So much of business is about being willing and able to adjust when things don’t go according to plan. Is your salesperson resilient and able to solve problems when they arise? Do they have the ability to come up with new plans and ideas when something doesn’t work, or do they just crumble in frustration?
Fifth, are they pleasant to be around? Sometimes, good business simply requires that you enjoy being around people. It doesn’t mean that they have to be your best friend, but if you just don’t like being around somebody, it’s going to be hard to do business with them. You don’t want to get overly picky here because no person is ever going to be perfect. But you do want to consider whether your potential sales person is going to be a pleasure to be around for you and your team, or whether it’s just going to be awkward for everyone.
Sixth, are they able to adjust to different personalities? No two prospects are the same, and a great salesperson is going to have the ability to switch their message and delivery from one prospect to the next. Are they able to ask questions to draw out a quiet prospect? Are they a good listener for prospects who like to talk? How do they deal with someone who is very risk-averse? A good salesperson is going to have an intuition to adjust to different personalities instead of assuming that all prospects should talk and listen to the way they want.
Seventh, are they good at following up? Some salespeople are good at creating an initial conversation and establishing interest, but they struggle with following up and keeping the conversation alive all the way to a close. Does your salesperson have the ability to keep the conversation going and go-to phone call number 4, 5, 6, and still maintain course?
Eighth, related to point number seven, do they know how to close? Some salespeople are good at creating conversations and even good at following up, but when it comes to closing the deal, they struggle. Does your potential salesperson no how to create terms and get a deal done? Or do they struggle at the finish line and not know how to seal the deal?
Ninth, are they more passionate about the prospect’s needs than they are about money? Some salespeople are gifted but they are so motivated by money that they end up hurting their sales potential because they fail to put a prospect’s need at the top priority. All of us are in business because we want to make money, but there’s a delicate balance we all must play: if money drives everything, you’ll have a hard time being conscious of your prospects needs, which ironically is the fastest path to making money. If you are obsessed with meeting the needs of your potential clients and customers, the money will follow.
Tenth, are they self-starters an independent, or do they need a lot of handholding? A good salesman will listen to you and learn from you, but they won’t be clingy or needy in the sales process. Sales require confidence and independence, and if the salesperson doesn’t have these characteristics, they’ll struggle.
There are plenty of good salespeople out there, and vetting them is an art and a science. Don’t just be fascinated by someone’s past results when considering them for a position. Ask how well they will do for your organization in particular and don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions in this article. It will be worth it.
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