Before you even think about what it takes to hire a great salesperson, it’s vital that you read my advice on building a great sales team first. Because if you’re the owner of a growing business, you need to understand the nuances that encompass a successful sales team before diving into this article where I go into the specifics of what makes the best salespeople.
Once you’re ready to start finding the right staff to be in your sales team, you may realise that it can be tricky. Essentially a job interview is someone selling themselves to you, in a way. So, how do you know someone will be good for your team after their personal sales pitch? What else do you need to look for when interviewing someone for your sales team? Should you rely on charisma alone, their skills, or past experience? Let me take you through what I’ve found over the years that creates a great salesperson.
Why should you listen to me?
I'm Andrew Morello, the Head of Business Development with The Entourage. I have worked with many businesses over the years, developing sales strategies and helping hire and work with the best people in sales teams. I won the first Australian Apprentice reality TV show, and have worked with the host, Mark Bouris AM and his Yellow Brick Road Financial Service business for ten years.
Having been in a variety of sales teams, and being someone who’s been immersed in sales myself, these are my top tips on what every salesperson should have.
What are the most important skills a salesperson should have?
As with all professional roles, you will be looking for specific skills in your potential salesperson. Learning these skills on the job is certainly possible, but if you hire a salesperson who is lacking in these skills and is unable to be trained, it can have an impact on your whole team and your business as a whole.
Arguably the most critical skill for anyone in sales, this skill can be broken down into three clear subcategories as follows.
“The biggest communication problem is we don’t listen to understand; we listen to reply.” — Stephen R. Covey (1932-2012)
Active listening is listening with empathy. It’s responding to a person in a meaningful way that improves mutual understanding and builds relationships. It helps you understand what another person is saying, and respect the time they are taking to speak with you.
Through active listening, you can understand your potential customers more, and customise your sales pitch to fit their needs.
Negotiation skills are important in the sales process as they can help cement relationships between your business and your clients.
Not everyone is receptive to hard sales talk. The salespeople you’re going to hire, can they negotiate to get a long-term client? Can they understand changing conditions to get a favourable result for your business?
Can they negotiate with you in the interview process to get a better salary?
The hard sell technique is no longer relevant and effective. Empathy, being able to understand the feelings and needs of a customer, client or prospect helps build a relationship, and build trust between you both.
This type of relationship, where you’re helping your customers solve problems with your products or services, can be positive and beneficial to both parties.
All three of these elements are intertwined. Being an active listener helps with your empathy. The understanding gained through empathy can strengthen your negotiation skills to get the sale.
2. Relationship building
Relationship selling is a sales tactic that never goes out of style. While different techniques become popular, or go out of fashion, building relationships between your business and your customers is still one of the strongest ways to make regular sales.
If your sales staff can get to know your clients and understand their business, opportunities can present to help that business grow. This is an excellent way to build a relationship and have a long term, loyal customer.
3. Business knowledge
This is a skill all good sales staff need. Its knowledge of key business strategies and the skill to apply that knowledge to your sales process.
- A sales team needs to know if they are to push certain products or services for the business.
- If a new product or service is coming, can you do presales, or contact clients whom you have a good relationship with and talk the new items up?
This skill is one that can be learnt. The team leader of the sales team needs to be in on strategy meetings so they can understand how sales fits in with the bigger picture.
As the sales strategy can be different for each business, this is why it is an ongoing learnt skill.
4. Deep understanding of product
As with all of these steps, the 4th one, understanding of product, flows from the one above. A deep understanding of product allows you to have a conversation with a customer on how the product can help solve their problems. It allows you to answer any questions customers may have.
It also allows you to see how this product fits in with the company’s direction, or the values of the company.
The better you know something, the less you need to sell it. By promoting the benefits and how it can help someone, your knowledge could have the customer buying because they want to, not because you’ve sold it to them.
What to do in the hiring process
As I mentioned before, a job interview is really a chance for someone to sell themselves to you, to the company. But the question is, how can you filter through this to find the people you want for your business?
- Hire for the role. Be specific about what the position is. Have it clearly defined in the job ad, and refer to the role during the interview. If the candidate starts to talk off topic, or about things not related to the role, this could be an amber flag.
- Only interview good candidates. You will get a lot of responses to sales ads. Some people believe sales is easy, and they will make a lot of money through commission, so a sales role is very attractive. Dig deeper into the resume and the cover letter, so you only talk to good candidates.
- Look at all communication. At all stages of the process, interrogate how they communicate with you. The cover letter and resume, phone interview, face-to-face interview, the works. Is their tone of voice upbeat? Do they make eye contact with you? Do they ‘Umm’ or ‘Ahh’ a lot? How is their spelling and grammar?
- Get to understand their personality. Look at using the DISC profiling system to understand them. You don’t have to click well with their personality immediately, but if they have a good brain for sales, and your business needs a high ‘S’ energy for the team, you could have a great candidate on your hands.
- What questions do they ask? This helps you gauge their interest in your company. It also shows if they are an active listener. If they can ask you good questions, they can ask customers good questions too, and help land a sale.
Where to find a great salesperson?
There are a few different options to find sales staff, and you’ll get different results with each channel.
- LinkedIn - You can put the call out for salespeople in your industry, get some niched responses, and even be able to check out candidates’ profiles before making any hiring decisions.
- Recruiting agencies - You will be sent candidates from the agency pool. You won't have as much say on who you get, but you don’t have to undergo a complicated and time-consuming recruiting process.
- Networking events - You meet people and speak to them, and almost have an interview then and there on the spot. If the energy is matched, you could invite them for a more detailed interview. It’s an excellent way to screen people.
- Social media - If you put it out into your social network that you’re looking for sales staff, the reach can be enormous, with likes and shares and referrals. Of course, then you need to filter and go through the recruiting process.
- Job boards - You can always use the traditional method of Seek or Indeed job ads. Be clear about the role and the responsibility so you can whittle down the casual job applicant.
Need a hand? See how our business coaches could help you find and build a great sales team
Want more help in recruiting a sales team and finding the perfect candidate? We have business coaches who can help you coach and train you in the sales function of your business so that you can hire the right people who carry the vision of your company. Book in now for a complimentary Discovery Session today to see how you can upskill yourself, and your sales team, to drive your business to the next level.
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