Many sales bosses are encountering the same problem as you are. However, your personal bias and definition of what makes a great salesperson could be the real obstacles to hiring one.
Great salespeople aren’t born; they’re made — but they’re made a long time before they show up on your doorstep. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he writes about people needing 10,000 hours of concentrated practice at something to be truly expert in it. Many of the attributes of a great salesperson are soft skills that are learned and embedded in people’s psyche long before they even contemplate a career in sales — things like a genuine empathy for people, a deeply rooted interest in and satisfaction derived from helping others, curiosity, a positive attitude and resilience in the face of adversity.
However, these are also not easy things to uncover in the interview process, and they often transcend the characteristics most recruiters look for in salespeople, such as extroversion and gregariousness.
So, to improve your recruiting results, I recommend adding some science to your selection process. Find a psychometric assessment tool that will identify the key characteristics and traits required to succeed in your sales environment (here at the Canadian Professional Sales Association, we offer our members Profiles International products)and give it to your top sales performers. The typical cost per test is around $200. Use the results to create your firm’s “sales DNA profile,” which will give you a benchmark for all future hires. If you do the job right and commit to the process, you’ll select more hires who have what it takes to be great sellers for you. It’s a lot better than picking someone based on a well-written resumé and your gut instincts.
More columns by Harvey Copeman