Believe it or not, it’s tough to find truly great sales people—even for someone who’s been in the business for decades.
According to the 2016-2017 Talent Shortage Survey by Manpower Group, sales positions, including sales representatives, sales executives, and sales advisors, are the third most difficult roles to fill and retain.
To avoid making a very costly mistake and hiring the wrong candidate, here are a few red flags to remember, as well as some key traits you want to see in your sales leaders.
1. The long lost contact
There’s nothing worse than a sales professional who doesn’t value the importance of maintaining relationships with his or her network. Successful salespeople are good at cultivating strong relationships—it’s what they do. When a contact who you haven’t heard from in years, reaches out to ask for something, whether it’s for a job or to use you as a reference, that’s a red flag.
2. The effortless contact
Experienced salespeople maintain relationships with their network by keeping in touch and finding ways to provide value. Simple gestures like sharing a relevant article, offering advice when appropriate, or commenting on a recent LinkedIn post are great tactics to establish trust and build long-term relationships. If a salesperson reaches out to you but never really contributes any value, they’re making effortless contacts and are likely trying to stay top of mind. Are you thinking red flag? Me too. If they’re not willing to put in the effort with you, it’s likely they won’t put in the time with your accounts.
3. The Con
People can only fake interest to a certain extent. If someone only knows basic details about your company (probably from your website’s home page) and doesn’t make an effort to ask questions and learn more, that’s a major red flag. Good sales people, the ones you want on your team, are curious. They listen, ask questions, and challenge your responses. They’re eager to learn. It’s very difficult to fake genuine interest, so if they try to fake it, they’re probably not a good fit.
4. Identifying Great Sales Leaders Early On
Now that we know some of the most common red flags, let's talk about a few of the traits you want to see in your prospective sales leaders. Relationships require cultivation, time, and energy, and when these are present it’s clear.
Great sales people find the right balance of time in between contacts, and often times these are driven by an interest in helping you, not the other way around. This is when you’ll notice the value. These touch bases are deeper than “the effortless contact” because a quality sales leader has knowledge of your business and a level of empathy that leaves you feeling like you’re on the same team.
These traits, combined with a genuine sense of curiosity about your business, its values and its objectives, will help quality sales leaders rise to the top of your list.
The best time to build a solid relationship is when someone needs help from you—not when you need help from them. By knowing what traits to identify, both good and bad, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress, time, and money.