Recruitment of sales staff

One of the biggest mistakes we can make when recruiting salespeople is to hire based primarily on experience.

It's easy to select candidates by looking at their previous roles, as this is tangible and measurable. It allows you to assume, for example, that a candidate with five years' experience is better than a candidate with two years' experience.

While this approach will help you find an experienced salesperson, it is not a guaranteed way to identify a top salesperson.

Instead, we should focus on behaviour first, and experience or skills second. After all, while skills and experience can be taught and developed over time, behaviour rarely changes.

So, what are the three qualities of top salespeople we should look out for?

Recruitment of sales staff

Persistent yet respectful

Firstly, top salespeople are persistent yet respectful.

About 50% of salespeople will abandon a prospect after one follow-up. However, according to research by Invesp 80% of sales require five follow-ups. As such, persistent salespeople end up closing far more deals than their peers.

Unfortunately, some people take persistence to mean using the same communication channels for all client contact. They may also call or email prospects "just to check in", which can be perceived as pushy.

Conversely, top salespeople know how to follow up with prospects without making them feel hunted. They handle multiple communication channels effectively and are willing to change or adapt their approach based on the response they receive.

For example, a subpar salesperson may offer a product demo while the client is still in the education stage. This is too much, too soon. However, a top salesperson will ask questions to discover what problems (pain) their client is facing. They will then use this information to identify possible solutions to alleviate that pain. This will allow them earn the client's trust, so they are more likely to say "yes" later down the track.


Keep a level head

Secondly, top salespeople keep a level head in high pressure situations. They think before they act, and rarely lose control of their emotions.

Suppose a potential client requests a discount. Rather than give an immediate answer, a top salesperson will pause for a moment. They'll take the time to gather their thoughts, and will say something along the lines of "let me walk you through the different options available so you can choose one that suit your budget best", or "what is more important to you - a lower price or better product/service quality?".

As stated in an article by Hubspot, "You’ll rarely see a top-performing rep speak too quickly or lose their cool. Staying composed is an automatic credibility booster. Plus, it helps salespeople avoid saying things they’ll later regret.

"Maybe your prospect asks for a customer reference or trial extension. Immediately answering - rather than pausing for a beat - makes you more likely to say, “Sure, we can do that!” instead of, “Can you walk me through how that’ll help your decision-making process?

"Being even-keeled is crucial during negotiations as well, since getting flustered makes it hard to think strategically. Also, buyers may get more aggressive when they notice your composure slipping away."

Keep a level head

Task-focused and confident

Finally, top salespeople are task-focused and confident. They are not afraid to take risks and pursue deals, and tend to be less emotional than their peers.

Because of these traits, top salespeople are more likely to bounce back from failure. They don't take rejection personally, and instead see it as an opportunity to learn and improve.

As an article for SellingPower states, "Great salespeople don’t just distance themselves from rejection. Instead, they think about what happened, take the learning lessons, and envision the opportunity to go back in and do it again, because they feel they can take that challenge on and change the outcome.

"They know they can’t go back and do it again, but in the back of their mind they’re dying for a similar opportunity, because they know what they’d do differently. And that kind of resilience is part of what makes top salespeople so special."

In addition to this, self-assurance comes into play when using the Challenger Sales Methodology. Top salespeople push back on prospects and focus on the end goal. They don't get caught up in worrying about whether or not their client likes them, and this allows them to keep their eye on the prize.

Task focused & confident

Christian Madsen - Managing Director at 11 Recruitment
Christian Madsen
Managing Director
11 Recruitment

Recruitment tips & advice


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