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How To Hire Top Sales Talent

[Extracted from: RainMaker Group: “Sales Manager’s Guide to Hiring Top Sales Performers”]

The three keys to hiring top sales talent are:
A. Identify the Right Behaviors in Your Candidate
B. Understand the  Motivators of Top Sales Performers
C. Determine How Many of the Attributes of Top Sales Performers Your Candidate Possesses.

Each of these is expanded in more detail, below.

A. Identify the Right Behaviors
1. Urgency: Top sales performers know that the longer they have to invest persuading a customer that the deal they are  closing is best for them, the less time they have to strike a new deal. Top sales people are not insensitive or impatient but they are urgent.

2. Competitiveness: Ask your candidates about  past successes. If they fumble or are unsure or vague then these are probably not true top salespeople. If they are certain and detailed about a time where they won a big contract and it was them against someone else, you are likely talking to a top salesperson . Even if their story was about a close but brutal loss they had and how that made them a better salesperson, you will know that you are speaking with someone that is at the top of their game.

3. Versatility: Does your candidate have a single approach such as a forced-down-the-throat methodology as their sales technique? Or are they nimble and specific and open to whatever the situation before them? True top sales performers will have tried many different approaches and  learned that there is not simply a one-size-fits-all method for accomplishing their sales goals.

4. Flexibility: Top sales people are looking to conquer that next mountain. If your company offers them the continued challenges they seek, they will stay. If you have met someone who calls themselves a rainmaker who has only been in one situation or one job for a long period of time, they may be good at selling that one product or service with which they are familiar but they are unlikely to be top sales talent.

5. Personality: You want to feel immediately comfortable when you first meet your  top sales candidate & customers should have the same feeling. Top sales talent could walk into a room full of strangers and have new best friends by the end of the evening. Someone who is not comfortable interacting with others cannot be a top salesperson.

B. Understand the Three Motivators of Top Sales Performers

1. Utilitarian: For top sales professionals the ends justify the means. Not that you want to go out seeking morally unscrupulous talent, but this is the way top sales performers are identified and future success predicted. Top sales performers have a strong desire to make money for them and their organizations and that need trumps all others.

2. Individualistic: Top sales professionals will not stay with your company forever; nor should they have the desire to. Avoid hiring a “lifer;” one who has no objective beyond earning their next paycheck with you. Top sales performers are like a thoroughbred racehorse – they want to run. While this may seem antithetical to your long-term businesses success, understand that top sales candidates have an intense desire to shape their own lives and that of others. 

3. Theoretical: A top sales candidate will have the desire to seek all the knowledge necessary to make the sale. They also will be able to retain even the most obscure and mundane facts and be able to call upon them when necessary to support the sale. Making such long-form observations is essential during the interview process.

C. Nine Attributes of Top Sales Performers

1. Personal Accountability: Results are key. At the same time you need sales talent who hold themselves personally accountable for their decisions. Whatever happens on their watch, they must be 100% accountable for every word said,  promise made, deal struck, and every claim which has been exaggerated.

2. Common Sense: As CEO or hiring manager for a company you do not want sales talent touting trumpets that your company cannot deliver on. One of the thirst things to go when sales people start boasting is common sense. You  do not want prices undercut or things said of your business which are untrue. Top sales performers not only exhibit confidence but also grace and common sense when engaging clients.

3. Sense of Purpose: Your best sales performers likely have a sense of purpose of a mission which is bigger than themselves. Top sales performers have an underlying sense of mission which is almost intangible and which guides them in their larger life’s mission.

4. Self Management: You cannot be at the top of your game without strong self-management.  Top sales performers will have excellent time management skills. They will know when a meeting or engagement has gone on too long, they will be able to budget their expenses, and they will not require a lot of direction. Self-management is one of the keys to being successful as a top sales professional.

5. Self-Direction: You cannot have a top salesperson that is waiting in the wings for the sale to walk in  the door. Top salespeople exhibit self-direction. The best of the best are aggressive, hungry, and have a sixth-sense about where to find sales. These  salespeople deliver without a great deal of outside guidance.

6. Drive: Top sales performers have that inner drive which guides them personally. Top sales performers will see they have done good work and then strive to accomplish more. Quantitating personal drive is essential in figuring if someone is a top sales performer and their place in your company. 

7. Persistence: Top sales performers are not lost on a difficult sale. They  stick with every sale until they are either given a firm rejection or they seal the deal. Even after a waffling rejection truly persistent top sales performers will not fall  off that potential customer’s radar. Top sales professionals understand the value of persistence and the planting of “seeds”. If they have put in the effort they want to see the results. Persistence helps prolong every sales performer’s time and results.

8. Initiative: Your top sales candidate  must have their own initiative – their own ideas and willpower to take action. Top sales professionals know what they want, where they want to go, and then where they will go after that. The brains of top sales performers are “wired” to naturally take initiative.

9. Results-Oriented: Top sales performers care passionately about the endgame. They are strongly results-orientrf which keeps them with their head in the game and their expectations grounded.


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