As Thomas Watson Sr., the President of IBM from 1914 to 1956 famously stated, “Nothing happens until a sale is made.”

Sales reps are arguably some of the most valuable employees at any business, especially for businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B), or where sales can only be made by a salesperson interacting with a potential customer.

However, a problem that many businesses face is that they hire the wrong people to be their sales reps, and those employees fail at the job, and they either quit or are fired. This wastes the company’s resources in recruiting and training costs. There is notoriously high turner at companies for sales rep positions, and the fault is the company’s fault because they are hiring the wrong people to be sales reps. 

The problem seems to be that the HR department and sales managers simply don’t know what personal qualities to look for when hiring sales reps, and because of that, they hire the wrong people, over and over, wondering why they can’t find good sales reps that are high achievement sellers and loyal to their company.

In this blog post we are going to discuss what qualities HR and sales managers should look for when interviewing and hiring sales reps. These sales rep hiring strategies come from Barbara Corcoran, who is one of the investors from the ABC TV show “Shark Tank.” 

1. Ignore their resume

A resume clouds how you see the person and what their true capabilities are as a salesperson. A resume cannot show you how a person handles being told “no” in a sales situation and how they interact with potential customers, or how they manage the sales process. In order to determine if a person has the qualities to be a good salesperson for your organization, you need to talk to them either over the phone, video conference (skype), or in person. 

2. You want a salesperson who is insecure

Yes, you read that headline correctly. You want a salesperson who is insecure. A salesperson who is insecure has something to prove, and that something they want to prove is that they are a great salesperson who can make a lot of sales for your organization.

On the other hand, if you interview a person who is cocky, that person will almost never be a great salesperson for you. An insecure salesperson will work much harder to achieve their sales goals than a salesperson who is cocky. If you want great salespeople, stop hiring cocky salespeople and start hiring insecure salespeople.

3. You want a salesperson who has a very positive attitude toward everything

A salesperson can be both insecure yet have a very positive attitude. The reason why you want to hire a salesperson who has a very positive attitude is that as a salesperson they are going to face being told “no” a lot. Salespeople who have a positive attitude do not get down and feel sorry for themselves when they are told no by a prospect. They stay positive and focused, and they keep moving forward. On the other hand, a salesperson who does not have a positive attitude will not be able to handle being told “no” all the time and will become depressed and quit.

When interviewing a potential salesperson, tell them “no” a few times during the interview, and purposely disagree with them to see how they handle it. Do they stay upbeat and positive with a big smile and positive body language, or can you see them losing hope and looking down, and having negative body language? Only hire very positive salespeople who are not bothered when they are told “no”.

4. Only hire salespeople with a very strong work ethic

You only want to hire salespeople who have a very strong work ethic and work endlessly. Being highly successful in sales is not a straight 40 hour per week job. Salespeople who will be highly successful at selling for your organization work like crazy. So when you interview potential salespeople, ask them about their work ethic and why they think they have a strong work ethic. You want to hear things like they work 50+ hour weeks, and that they work early mornings, nights, and weekends. You want a salesperson who is highly driven and has the self-motivation to put in the extra time needed to be the best of the best. If they are just looking to do the minimum and never work a minute more than a 40 hour week, that person is most likely not going to be a good salesperson for your organization.

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