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Don’t Be Sold By a Sales Candidate

April 16, 2013

Having the right salespeople in an organization can make the difference between a good company and a great one. Finding effective salespeople can be particularly difficult because the very same skills that are used for selling can be turned on you during the hiring process.

Sales candidates can be very savvy and their strong interpersonal skills can aid them in interviewing very well. In some cases, they could be using their charm to cover up their deficiencies. Remember, candidates are going to present their best features and benefits and spin their experiences to get the job.

How can you prevent yourself from buying the wrong salesperson?sold 153711708

• Look Beyond the Charm
Many salespeople can be very charming. They are personable and friendly and have the ability to connect with you quickly. You feel good when you spend time with them and you want to be their friend. Charm is important, but there are other behaviors that are more important for an effective salesperson to possess. Friendliness can get you in the door but if the salesperson doesn’t present the right information, uncover the underlying need or follow through on promises -- the revenue will not follow.

• Goals, Goals, Goals
Research clearly shows that if you had to pick one characteristic you want a salesperson to possess it would be Achievement Orientation. This goes by many labels, but, in general it means: goal driven, results-oriented, fire in the belly - motivated! Unfortunately, a salesperson is unlikely to be successful if he/she doesn’t have the internal drive to succeed.

• Don’t Forget the Details
I’ve heard many people say that salespeople aren’t detail-oriented and that they tend to leave the details to others. However, our research has shown that, those who are better at time management and tend to the small details of their clients are more effective salespeople.

• Ask for Results
When it comes to figuring out if someone will be able to get you results, ask them for examples. If they have been successful in the past, they are likely to be successful in the future. Ask for specific examples and probe into detail about how they have dealt with difficult customers and situations.

• Use More Than an Interview
If you want to be certain that you don’t fall for a candidate with no substance, supplement an interview with an in-depth assessment. Find an assessment that can give you more information about a candidate’s achievement orientation, time management and accountability. Your personal experience coupled with these results will help you make a well-informed hiring decision.

For more information on hiring in sales, download our

Predicting Success in Sales Whitepaper. 

hiring better salespeople   



Amie Lawrence, Ph.D. Amie Lawrence, Ph.D. is the Manager of Product Development at PSI. She is an expert in the design, development and validation of psychological assessment tools. An integral member of PSI since 2000, Amie has led the development of numerous competency-based assessments, including online in-baskets, job simulations and motivational fit instruments.