Sales Success

There’s a saying experienced sales leaders have that goes like this: “You lose more sleep over the ones you don’t fire than the ones you do.” It’s never easy deciding when to let a challenged sales professional get on with his or her life, but that decision should drive your hiring and staffing decisions.Successful staffing, quality leadership and a fit culture help to ensure that every staffing investment is a good one. I’ve hired hundreds of sales professionals over the years, and I’ve developed a proven line of questioning that helps to ensure good staffing decisions and quality sales success results.There are a load of areas to explore and fundamental (behavior based) questioning is important. By behavior based questioning, I’m talking about asking the candidates to speak about their specific successes, failures, sales scenarios and the like — so that the discussion is not abstract. It’s nonsense the way some hiring managers allow the discussion to be hypothetical in nature.In addition to covering the basics needed to ensure the creation of a TEAM with chemistry, appropriate educational, sales training and work experience and a passion for the customer, I like to ask the individual hire candidates the following set of questions.Let me state the questions, and then I’ll give you some information on how to correctly use them and how to gauge the responses. While the answers may be important, the reasons behind why and how they approach the questioning is what really matters to me. The questions are designed to provide insight into five very important areas: organizational skills, aggressiveness, professionalism, ability to take direction and integrity.On a scale of 1-10, how organized do you think you are?On a scale of 1-10, how aggressive do you feel you are?On a scale of 1-10, how professional do you think you are?On a scale of 1-10, how good are you at taking direction?On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your integrity levels?Each question should be asked individually and followed up on PRIOR to moving on to the next question. Anytime someone answers below an 8, they better have a skewed measuring perspective or they are not going to cut it working for me.On a scale of 1-10, how organized do you think you are?Regardless of their answer follow-up with “Why so?” Their answer will divulge if they have a skewed measuring perspective, and that will need modified in order to correctly place them on your scale. For instance, if they think 5 is good — help them to understand that this is a competitive marketplace and 7 probably is not going to allow them to succeed.In today’s fast paced world, organized sales professionals succeed more often than unorganized ones. Just like the days of the hard charging, chain smoking, heavy drinking sales rep are long gone, so are the days of sales reps being unorganized. An unorganized sales rep will either be slow to respond to customers or a bottle neck internally, and neither of those scenarios bode well for you hitting your number or enabling sales success within your company.On a scale of 1-10, how aggressive do you feel you are?Why so? If they are not an 8 or higher, are they really going to have the courage to ASK tough questions? Remember, you have to A-S-K to G-E-T and sales professionals need to be aggressive.I’ll share a quick story with you. I once had a customer call and say that the sales rep was too aggressive. I apologized to the customer and then I went and gave the rep a raise. Forgive me, but the business of selling is not for the bashful.On a scale of 1-10, how professional do you think you are?Why so? Your industry or market may not require professionalism. But if I am hiring aggressive sales reps, I want them to know how to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the expectations of the specific marketplace. Base your needs on your specific market’s culture and norms.On a scale of 1-10, how good are you at taking direction?Why so? Now let me start by saying that if any of the previous 1-10 questions were not answered with a number, I don’t care how high they proclaim their ability to take direction — because they have not demonstrated this quality with the answers to the previous questions. I’m a big fan of Situational Leadership, and if they have the skills and commitment to do the job, most times you only need to point them in the right direction and get out of the way. But anything less and you had better be hiring folks who can follow your lead.On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your integrity levels?Why so? Look, no one is perfect so I’m not looking for a 10 here. We all make mistakes and I am more concerned with their respect for doing what is right than I am with them trying to con me into thinking they’re a saint. If they are telling me their perfect, they’ll probably be telling my customers that we are perfect as a company — and I would rather have sales reps who know how to sell reality not a dream or an expectation we cannot fulfill.All responses in an interview setting should be fairly concise. If the candidate is blathering on and on without logic and purpose, they’ll soon be doing the same thing in front of your customers — if you hire them.Finally, keep in mind that many times superstar sales reps are a big pain in the butt internally. And they’re worth it. The passion they demonstrate internally is the same passion they are showing your prospects and customers, and that means results and sales success.

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