Even LeBron James was a rookie once. But before he ever played a professional game, I remember hearing stories that experts thought that, in high school, he was as good as Michael Jordan was at that age. Sure, you can’t always predict who will pan out to be an all-star (a lot of experts had high hopes for Greg Oden). But GMs need to be able to make very educated guesses in order to build teams that win.
The same is true when building a sales team. It might be a lot easier to build a team that wins if every rep you hire had a proven track record of wins. But the competition to hire great reps has reached a point where many companies are hiring reps (especially for SDR roles) right out of college. So how can you predict which reps will be a slam dunk when they may have never worked a sales job before in their lives?
Here at RingDNA, we hire people who not only listen well, but can tell a great story. This requires the ability to listen to a prospect’s pain points, not speak over them, and then relate that information to the solution they’re selling in a really intelligent way. We’ve found that the ability to tell a great story is often a sign of future success.
Our team reached out to some other sales leaders we trust to see how they hire reps without a lot of experience. Here’s what they had to say.
Look for Evidence of Budding Business Acumen
To find out, we asked some sales experts how they weed through candidates who have little-to-no sales experience. Here’s what they had to say. If they’re coming out of a university, I make sure they can show me some kind of proven track record. Maybe they started a business when they were in college, or maybe they held a paper route as a child. I want to see how they did year over year. Any type of track record is going to help show me the type of action plans they put in place and how they executed on those action plans. And then lastly, I look for evidence of budding business acumen. I am very cognizant of the type of questions they ask during interviews. I look for what their writing style is like when they’re following up with me via email. I pay attention to what their conversation skill is like when they’re on the phone with me or any of the leaders in my organization. Do they do something to truly set themselves apart, like send me a thank you note that’s handwritten? These are the areas I look at first.
Senior Director, Global Demand Center, ServiceNow
Hire Athletes and People Who Have Overcome Adversity
At Datanyze, we have a handful of Division I athletes. That’s a really good sign that someone is a team player, can take instruction from a coach and work really hard to be at the top of their game. If someone was able to become a top athlete, it’s a really good sign that they might fit the type of mold and culture that we’ve built here.
We also look for people who have had certain obstacles in their life that they’ve overcome, whether they’ve come from a tough neighborhood, or moved from another country and had to deal with a lot of change.
Co-Founder and CRO, Datanyze
Look for Tangible Examples of Past Success
When hiring salespeople, I’ve found that top performers had very tangible examples of what they did to be successful. They could recount specific details on the issue, what they did and the outcome. I also love it when candidates share successes and demonstrate pride in their efforts.
Sales Coach and Author, 52 Sales Management Tips – The Sales Manager’s Success Guide
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