Sales talent is essential for the growth of any business. With the changes introduced through a global pandemic, some organizations have struggled while others have thrived. Regardless, there will always be a need for top sales talent.
Ask yourself, how might your needs have changed over the past year? What do you need from your sales team that might be different than what you needed in the past?
Sales Attributes of the Past
Many sales leaders rely on their gut instinct to find those salespeople who can drive revenue. You might think to yourself, “I just totally hit it off with this person! They were likable, personable, and really they can go drink for drink with me.” In the past, that might be the reason you hired them.
However, those skills might not get you very far today.
The charismatic, smooth-talking sales professionals used to be able to overcome many deficiencies. Their personalities compensated for a potential lack of preparation, process, and even professionalism.
Sales Attributes for the Present
Today’s top performers demonstrate empathy. They ask great questions. They follow a defined process that puts them on the same side and that helps them work collaboratively with their clients to make decisions together.
Ironically, those same attributes were often the characteristics that proved to be most successful in the past, even if those weren’t the folks closing down the bar at the annual President’s Club retreat. Even though they weren’t viewed as top salespeople from the outside, they were the ones closing deals and retaining clients.
Their bosses or co-workers may have said, “I don’t understand how Pat does it! I’ve never seen Pat as the stereotypical salesperson, but clients rave about how much they rely on Pat.”
The reason for a salesperson like Pat’s success is that he is seen as a subject matter expert.
A subject matter expert views their role as the go-to person on certain problems or subjects. They don’t believe that you should have to use persuasion to make a sale. Instead, they know that the most effective way to make a sale is to get to the truth about what the product or service can do to help the client as quickly as possible.
Selling with integrity is very important to a salesperson who views themselves as a subject matter expert. They tend to gain the client’s trust because they feel that they are all on the same side and that they have their best interests in mind.
When you’re trying to figure out how to solve an important issue, that’s what you as a client need. The stereotypical back-slapping salesperson might be the person to take you out for golf, drinks, and a boisterous evening, but Pat is the person you want when you have a real need.
In today’s new landscape, salespeople with the attributes of empathy, curiosity, knowledge, and integrity are getting the respect they deserve and becoming the go-to when a company is relying on someone to help clients and make sales.
Questions to Find the Right Talent for Your Team
When hiring today here are some great questions to ask to help you uncover the right candidates:
- Tell me about a deal that you should have won but you lost. What happened?
- What’s the biggest change for your clients from a year ago to today?
- How would you go about meeting your sales goals differently today than a year ago?
- What would prevent you from succeeding?
In the answer to each question, you’re listening for empathy and a sense of personal responsibility.
I want candidates that understand how things have changed and have internalized those issues. I want candidates who have used the pandemic to grow and adapt and not as an excuse to let deals fall through.
If they make excuses or blame others, rest assured this isn’t the last time you’ll hear a great excuse.
For example, here are two potential responses to the question, “Tell me about a deal that you should have won, but you lost. What happened?”
One response could be, “Well we had a great deal. Then, when Covid hit, the deal died and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
The second answer to the same question might be, “We had a great deal and when Covid hit we lost their attention. We didn’t help them see that with the problems they were facing they really should have made our stuff a top priority. Instead, we lost the sale and the client struggled without our solution. We learned some better questions to ask in the future to shift the priority for clients like that.”
You can see the difference between these two salespeople. One places the blame on outside circumstances, which can be easy to do with a global pandemic. But, it demonstrates this person’s lack of personal responsibility. You can bet that they will continue to blame circumstances or other people when sales fall through in the future.
The second person has learned from the experiences that they went through during the pandemic, and has made a plan to improve going forward. They will continue to grow and find ways to help their clients regardless of what is going on in the world.
Hire the second one and pass on the first one.
If you want to find out more about how to get your sales team on the same side as your clients and grow your sales with integrity, check out Same Side Selling Academy. There you’ll discover the tools and resources to help you find success now and in the post-pandemic world.