Is it really possible to hire great sales talent? What makes one sales person succeed and another fail? How does one sales person out-produce another, or an entire team? Is there a secret trait, or characteristic, you should know about? Average turnover in Sales ranges from 35 – 60% annually. I’m aware of some companies where turnover is even higher, hovering in excess of 70%. Imagine a sales force where 7 in 10 will be gone within the first 12 months. Not a pretty picture.
If you’re building a sales team there are two traits that I have found to serve as a good barometer of future sales success; curiosity and the desire to learn.
Sales people must be curious. They should enjoy tinkering with things. Changing things up. Trying new things. Asking tons of questions. They should show a spark when presented with a problem, not shy away and become quiet. Being curious allows a successful sales person to better understand their customers needs, the marketplace, trends, and possibilities.
The second trait that is a reliable predictor of sales success is the desire to learn. Notice I didn’t say ability to learn. We all have abilities…some natural, some taught. However, what we really need is desire. Desire speaks to what an individual will do regardless of what’s required. If the desire is strong enough she will move mountains to accomplish what’s in her sites.
So how can you probe for curiosity and desire? Here are some questions to ask during the interview process that will provide you insight on whether your candidate has these traits:
- What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail at it?
- What was the last book you read? What did you learn?
- What LinkedIn groups do you belong to, and tell me about a discussion within that group that you found to be interesting and why?
- What types of books do you like to read and why?
- Who is your favorite author? Why?
- If you could start your own business what would it be and why?
- Who would you pick as your favorite leader and why?
- What is your preferred method of learning?
- What 3 adjectives would a client, or former colleague use to describe you?
- Tell me your 3 favorite questions to ask prospects
- What would you do if you won the lottery?
Selling requires strong critical thinking skills. Critical thinking skills are developed by expanding your insights and perspectives which happen primarily through learning. The more curious someone is, the greater their propensity will be to be a continuous learner.
Let me know what you think. Happy recruiting!