Today's post is by Max Cates, author of Seven Steps to Success for Sales Managers.
There’s often a huge difference between the person you interview and the person you hire as your new sales rep. Following are three candidates who may surprise you once they’re on the payroll.
You know them – the ones exuding charm, poise, and grace. The ones you instantly like. They may describe themselves as “born to sell.” They will be your best performers or they will be your worst. The ones with drive and discipline – those who work hard, prepare, and learn new skills – can be your top sellers. The others, who slide by on social graces, are likely to walk into appointments with little preparation, and just improvise a way to get the signature. They’re also slow to learn new skills.
In a word, they are lazy. They will do just enough to get by but not enough to excel. Many times, you can identify them by asking for their sales reports, which will show average numbers. Another way is to probe for their enthusiasm for learning and their ability to prepare for sales calls.
Self-described perfectionists look good on paper, and can be quality reps – considering their attention to detail and uncompromising standards. However, perfectionists can overcomplicate customer transactions to the point of losing the sale. The perfectionist may try to add just one more detail – a cross-sale, for example – and see the whole transaction fall apart. Perfectionists, having an eye for detail, sometimes are overwhelmed by minutia, and have difficulty meeting deadlines and completing tasks.
Functional perfectionists, the ones who make good candidates, are able to get 90 percent of the job done – then move on rather than spending excessive time fussing over the remaining 10 percent of details. To identify those with over-the-top perfectionism: probe for their ability to meet deadlines; inquire about uncompleted projects (hobbies, home, and job-related tasks); and watch for “over-explaining” (providing more detail than needed).
These self-absorbed sellers will manipulate people, break rules to meet their personal goals, and alienate coworkers and customers. Most sales narcissists shine in interviews – looking you in the eye and telling you what you want to hear with a contrived sense of sincerity, even humility.
One way to identify a narcissist is to make a statement critical of the candidate’s credentials. For example, “I’m not sure you have the kind of quality experience we need to handle our customers.” Most true narcissists hate to be maligned, and may show defensiveness or irritation.
Also, ask the candidate what his or her weaknesses are. The answer may be a strength that’s masqueraded as a weakness. For example, they might answer, “I sometimes over-prepare for my sales calls.” Also, look for a lot of “I” instead of “we” statements, and a tendency to blame the economy and others for failure to achieve objectives.
For more on hiring, see my new book, Seven Steps to Success for Sales Managers.