What characteristics do you think of when you envision a successful salesperson? For most people, words like outgoing, calculating, and calm traditionally come to mind — but are these really the best a salesperson can offer?
Do these characteristics ensure high sales numbers, or has the image of the friendly, outgoing door-to-door salesman just become our automatic reference point whenever we hear the word “salesperson”?
Eighty percent of firms increased their recruiting for sales roles in 2014, according to Bullhorn’s “2015 North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends Report”, a 7 percent increase from 2013. As more firms look to hire sales professionals, it becomes even more important for hiring managers to think outside the box in order to find talented, successful new hires who will make an impact quickly.
Here are four things you may not normally look for in your sales candidates, but should definitely start looking for
You probably just thought something along the lines of “What? No way!” But an introvert’s preferences for introspection and building deep relationships are very effective in a sales environment.
Introverted salespeople listen, and salespeople who listen put clients at ease. Instead of putting on the hard sell and having a quick — often, canned — answer for every one of a client’s questions, an introvert will sit back and listen for clues about what the potential client really wants. Sure, the client may be asking about support hours, but the introvert will see past that surface and realize that the client is really asking if you’ll be there when something goes wrong.
Introverts are more likely to hear these “hidden” meanings and ask thoughtful questions that help to build deeper connections with potential clients.
While unhealthy neuroticism can be a problem — after all, a salesperson who is prone to bouts of anxiety or stress doesn’t sound ideal — healthy neuroticism can be the key to increased productivity.
In 2012 and 2013, researcher Nicholas Turiano and his team at the University of Rochester measured conscientiousness levels in neurotics and found that neurotics with high levels of conscientiousness — healthy neurotics — turned their anxiety into a positive thing. They tend to “channel [the] anxiety they have to motivate them to do good work,” according to Turiano.
In an industry with sales goals, deal deadlines, and mounting pressure to produce, a candidate with the ability to turn their anxiety into productivity is a candidate no hiring manager should pass up.
3. Mental Agility
What’s better than a salesperson who knows your product inside out? A salesperson who can think on their feet. Mental agility measures a candidate’s ability to think outside the box and process information in real-time situations.
When you’re in the field, a prospect will have questions, concerns, and issues that need to be addressed before a sale is made.
Good sales professionals see many of these things coming before they approach the prospect — but they can’t foresee everything. That’s why it’s important to find candidates with mental agility.
Spot candidates with mental agility by using hiring simulations to assess a candidate’s skills. Put your candidates through a “typical” sales scenario and throw a few curveballs. If the candidate processes the information from the prospect and determines a strong course of action on the spot, put the candidate at the top of your list.
Think about the last time you really liked someone who tried to sell you something. Was the salesperson a “fast-talker,” or did they come off as honest and fair?
If you’re like most people, you were probably drawn to the more honest salesperson.
When it comes to sales, taking an open and honest approach with prospects is the best course of action. If you don’t already have integrity on your list of qualities to assess in your sales candidates, it’s time to add it. Candidates with high levels of integrity help make your brand stand out, and, as a result, help you cultivate a more loyal list of clients.
What unconventional characteristics do you look for in a sales professional? How do you balance traditional characteristics with these more unique traits to find the best talent?