Finding motivated self-starters can seem like looking for a needle in a haystack. But top performers do exist. Here are seven tips for how to identify and hire the kind of self-motivated achievers who can become an asset to any sales team.
1) Conduct ongoing interviews. Scan LinkedIn routinely (even once a month can help) to find viable candidates, even when you’re not actively looking to hire. That way, you’ll always have a handful of good applicants to contact when a position opens up. Also, consider advertising for new salespeople at least once every quarter (whether you have an opening or not).
2) Don’t hire on the spot. Even if a candidate makes a great first impression, it’s risky to hire too quickly. Consider that face-to-face interviews aren’t necessarily enough to evaluate sales ability. Ask candidates to send a thank-you letter after the interview and explain why they think they’re the best person for the job. This tests how well the applicants can express themselves in written form and how good their follow-up skills are.
3) Hire based on attitude, not experience. Perhaps the most important quality to look for in an applicant isn’t industry or even sales experience. It’s attitude. You can train and educate people with little sales or industry knowledge, but people with innate drive and determination aren’t easy to find. Whatever your applicant’s background, look for positive energy and an ability to bounce back from rejection.
4) Use language that’s likely to attract the applicants you seek. For example, try using words and phrases like self-starter, hard working, motivated, experienced, and energetic. Make sure that anyone who reads the job posting or description will get a sense of your unique corporate culture. Be clear about parameters (for example, if the position pays commission only, state that up front).
5) Pay attention to body language. During each interview, imagine that you’re a prospect. Would you welcome the chance to talk or do business with this applicant? Is the person engaging and pleasant? Candidates should maintain consistent eye contact, smile frequently, listen well, and project confidence.
6) Look for people who want to do more than meet quotas. Look for people who broke sales records in previous positions or who excelled in other ways. What they did isn’t as important as their desire to be the best. Design interview questions that gauge your applicants’ desire to achieve. Their answers will help you decide who will excel and who won’t.
7) Note whether the applicant asks for the job. You might be able to tell how applicants will pursue a prospect from the way they pursue a sales position.
To build a sales team of achievers, you have to know how to identify great performers as well as diamonds in the rough. With a little practice, you can learn to spot and hire the winners.