What To Look For When Hiring a Salesperson

What sales traits do you need to hire for in 2021?

Hiring a salesperson is a risk. They’re expensive, and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ list of attributes that will tell you whether a person is great at working in sales compared to some other roles.

What to look for when hiring salespeople

What skills does a salesperson need?

Sales is a broad profession – you need so many skills to succeed, such as:

  • Great communication
  • Fantastic business knowledge and an understanding about the mechanics of a business
  • Able to work in a team with your technical staff and operations teams
  • Ability to connect and engage with customers
  • Drive to succeed
  • Ready to go above and beyond to get the deal done
  • Great product knowledge and ability to link those product features to business outcomes
  • Presentation skills
  • Ability to manage your own time and diary
  • Project management
  • People management
  • Understanding of complex deals and distribution models (i.e. resellers, partners, third parties)

How to hire the right salesperson in 2021

The traits and characteristics you hired for ten years ago are very different now. Here’s a rundown of what to look for when hiring a salesperson today:

1. Marketing knowledge is essential for salespeople today

The line between sales and marketing is blurred – and today’s salespeople need marketing skills to promote themselves, to engage in social selling, to create content for their customers and to come up with creative lead generation strategies.

Look for salespeople who are confident in using social media, who have built up a thought leadership position in their industry and have a good network of connections on social media.

2. Business-focused salespeople are key

Salespeople need a solid understanding of how business works. That sounds obvious, right? But so many reps are hired who don’t have an understanding of the mechanics of business; profit, loss, organisational structure, how customers operate in their own market, the customer’s strengths and weaknesses, etc.

Check that your potential new sales hire has an understanding of your customers’ own businesses – their drivers, their challenges, who they partner with, their resellers, how they sell to customers, and so on.

Another thing, is checking during the sales interview process whether your sales hire knows how to put together a compelling business case and integrate your product into a typical business case for customers (showing how it will save the customer money/time/resources or drive their business forward).

3. Sales has got more ‘professional’

Sales is now a much-coveted occupation, with many people studying sales at university or taking MBAs to progress their sales careers. Look for new salespeople who want to up their sales game, increase their knowledge by reading around the job, using sales playbooks to refine their knowledge, and who are keen to soak up all the knowledge, skills and experiences they can.

Gone are the days of the maverick salesperson who rolls into the office scruffy and late but ‘gets the job done’. Customers expect so much more and we need to raise our levels to meet them.

4. Customer experience starts with the salesperson

Many salespeople don’t like to think that what they do is ‘customer service’. They associate customer service with chatbots or sitting on the phone handing out generic advice from a script – but it’s not. The way we can often add the most influence as a salesperson is through providing outstanding customer service.

Customer experience starts with the salesperson – if they don’t give a great first impression and handle customer queries, issues or support tickets well, then it’s not going to help when they come back in three months time to try and sell to them.

Ask your new sales hire their views on customer service and what they can do to give customers a better customer experience.

5. Creativity in sales – the next big thing

All too often, salespeople are fed all their content to share, their presentations to pitch and even the words they say to customers by ‘the company’ or the marketing department. Salespeople now need to be more creative, they’ll be expected to come up with their own sales presentations, their own graphics and marketing content and their own social media posts.

As salespeople we’re used to doing a bit of everything, but this is going to go to the next level in 2021 and beyond. If every time you want to post on social media, you have to go through your marketing department to get sign off, then it’s not going to work. But neither is just posting the same marketing content that all your other sales colleagues are posting (which seems to happen alot).

Salespeople need to be given some creative freedom to go out and express their personalities, share and create content and interact with customers online and offline with some creative flair.

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