The process of interviewing and hiring candidates for a sales position can be challenging and at times very arduous. In most cases you have a good idea of what you are looking for in the ideal candidate: successful track record, experienced, knowledgeable, good communication skills, yada, yada, yada. Qualifications and skill sets are important and without them the potential candidate doesn’t even make the 1st cut, but the process can still be somewhat of a crap- shoot.
As a sales manager, when I interview someone, I don’t put a lot of stock in the 1st impression, what he looks like, how young or old he is, what tie, shirt, or the suit he is wearing. When we sit down in my office, I’m looking past the polished resume. While I’m sure it’s impressive, I look beyond the successes, the accomplishments, and all propaganda that is listed. Heck if he isn’t successful and can’t sell, then he probably isn’t sitting in my office.
When it comes to what questions I ask in the interview, while I may start off with the basics, I’m not big on those HR provided questions. You know the ones I’m talking about, those that ask about the candidates various strengths and weakness, the ones that start off with, “tell me a time when . . .”, or the “describe a situation where . . .” . While these are all valid questions and can tell you a lot about the candidates qualifications, they tell you little about their character, their individual qualities and attributes.
It’s like looking at an iceberg. On the surface they have all the qualifications and the skills are there. But in reality its what’s below the surface that is the difference. This is where the qualities, the attributes, and true character reside. It’s where you find the critical things that don’t necessarily show up on a resume, things like adaptability, flexibility, and resourcefulness.
We live in an ever-changing world and not every sales situation is the same. We all have different clients, with different issues, different challenges, and needs. I want to know if this person is adaptable, flexible, and resourceful enough to not only do the job, but to excel at it.
With all the challenges we face in customer environments, at some point, this person will need to adapt to or modify his approach to accommodate certain client situations. If I see an area for improvement and I offer some coaching, I want to know that he is flexible enough to heed my advice (or at least give it a try). If there is a problem of some sort, I want to know that he is resourceful enough to go wherever and to whomever to get the situation corrected.
I also want to know if this person is competitive, creative, and innovative. We all know how competitive the game of sales is and I want someone who hates to lose. To be successful you to need separate yourself from the crowd. Showing creativity and being innovation plays a critical part in the game, it’s a differentiator and it can sometimes mean the difference between winning and losing.
But what I really want to know is does this person have the Fire Inside?
Does he have that fire in his heart and in his belly? Does he have the “whatever it takes” to be successful attitude? Does he have the passion, the enthusiasm, the desire to make it happen?
Is this someone I can count on? When it’s the end of the quarter, end of the year, and the pressure from my boss is immense, can and will he deliver? When I need that little extra, when I’m looking for just one more deal to make my number, when my bonus is on the line, can I count on him to answer the call?
How does one discover if someone has the fire inside? What type of questions do I ask? Well let’s just save that for another post for now. There is an old saying that goes something, “Source for qualifications, hire for qualities”. When it comes down to your interviewing and hiring process, chances are that you can get a pretty good sales person with what you are doing. But to find a real super star, a true sales rock star, you have to look past the obvious, take a deep dive, and look for the Fire Inside.
The Fire Inside, is it in you?
Please share your thoughts and comments.