Experience Doesn’t Matter — If Your Sales Candidates Don’t Have These 3 Things

Hiring great sales people is NOT easy. Sales people come in all shapes and sizes. Every sales position is different. There are big sales and little sales. There are complex sales and there are transactional sales. There are long sales and short sales. Sales is infinitely different with infinite possibilities. We’ve seen it all, BUT in spite of all the different variations, there is still a set of constants when it comes to finding killer sales people. It doesn’t matter the industry, the product or the sales environment, there are 3 things you must find in EVERY candidate in order to hire them or you are just wasting your time. We have a tendency to hire for experience, industry knowledge, communications skills, network, etc. but none of these things matter if your candidates can’t demonstrate they have a full cup of the following: analysis, creativity and determination. Analysis: Analysis is critical because sales is about problem solving.  Problem solving requires the ability to take in lots of information, massage it, assess it, filter it, and craft perspectives, understandings, hypotheses, and assumptions.  Great sales people must be able to assess what is happening in an account, understand the motives of the buyers, identify unseen opportunities, avoid pitfalls, and more.   All of this requires strong analytical skills.   Without good analytical skills sales people are like leaves in the wind.  They will be blown all over the place. Creative: Once the analysis is done, solutions have to be created and this is where creativity comes in.   When given the same information most people will come to the same conclusions and offer similar solutions.   The creative sales person offers different solutions.  The creative sales person offers solutions others don’t see.  They fix problems with creative, outside the box, solutions that bring added-value.  They are able to solve their own selling challenges faster and with better answers. Creative sales people differentiate themselves based on their solutions, approaches, and execution for the customer AND for themselves.  They bring more benefit and value.   Without creativity fewer doors are opened, less opportunities are found, problems linger longer, the competition is better positioned and selling is harder.   Creative sales people make the selling process much easier. Determination/Grit: At the end of the day sales is hard.   It’s like climbing a mountain, running a marathon, doing the last rep in a work out.  You’re going to want to quit.   Selling will push you to give up.  It will challenge your confidence, your sense of self, your stamina, and your will.   You will question whether or not you can get it done.  You will want to quit.  You will feel it’s hopeless and that’s where determination and grit kicks in.   The best sales people don’t quit.  They don’t give up.  The don’t let hopelessness settle in.  The best sales people are driven by the challenge, the unconquerable and the thrill of doing things others couldn’t.   In sales there is no success without drive, without the determination to get to the top of the mountain, finishing the marathon, getting the last rep done. The best sales people have more grit and commitment to getting to the promise land. Reps with grit never quit! A sales person who is poor at analyzing will miss opportunities.  They will not understand the root of the problems, they will miss diagnose. Sales people with poor analysis skills will have smaller pipelines, take longer to close deals and have a terrible win/loss ratio. Sales reps who aren’t creative will have a lower win/loss ratio, will compete on price, have a smaller pipeline and won’t retain their customers as long, because they are unable to find creative solutions to customer objections, stalled sales, product issues and other sales challenges. Sales reps who don’t have determination will lose more deals, turn over more often, and will be less reliable in the end. Without these 3 traits nothing else matters.  It doesn’t matter how well you listen, if you can’t do anything with what you heard.  It doesn’t matter how engaging you are if you have nothing creative to offer once you’ve engaged the client.  It doesn’t matter how honest and trusting your clients see you if you quit because they don’t buy anything in the first 3 months.   It doesn’t matter how well you can communicate if there is no substance to the communication.  It doesn’t matter how well you can focus on “needs” if you focus on the wrong needs because of poor analysis. There are tons of traits and skills that make sales people good.  For me the most important are analysis, creativity and determination.   They are the foundation.  Hire for those traits and everything else is gravy. Before you hire your next sales person, make sure they can analyze, are creative and have grit, they are what really matter.