Sales HELP Wanted: Hire What You Can’t Train
Why the Focus on Industry Experience / Contacts???
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I am frequently asked by partners about hiring a sales person. It usually goes like this, “hey, I am looking for a sales person, do you know anyone who might be interested?” My first question is “what are you looking for” and I am always surprised by the response.
The list generally looks like this:
· Need someone with industry experience
· Want the person to have extensive industry contacts
· Proven track record in sales is key
· Technical knowledge of my product and system is a must
This approach looks to me like you want to just poach a competitor’s sales person and generally the ones willing to move might not be the BEST. It also strikes me that this hiring approach is looking for things that could be trained, taught and learned.
Here is my list of what you should look for:
· Maturity and a willingness to make thing happen
· Curiosity – must be interested in customer’s problems
· Genuine ability to look people in the eye, shaking their hand and engage
· Problem solving approach to business – an eye on the big picture
I consider my list to skills that are much harder to teach as they generally come from some natural ability, early age training and experience DOING it. The typical list are things that a good sales person will learn very quickly, my list is what they will bring to the table.
Don’t get fixated on technical / industry specific issues, find sales people with the “tough to learn” skills, offer product / industry specific training and you will find GREAT SALES PEOPLE.