• Mike Poledna

The 3 Biggest Questions When Choosing the Right Candidate for Your Sales Position

Updated: Jan 13

Selling is a tough profession. Salespeople need to be driven, persuasive, and charismatic to succeed. Sales is also an industry where turnover rates are high, and it can be difficult to find a sales candidate that will mesh with your company culture. As the decision-maker for hiring sales candidates, you have three big questions you should answer before making any final decisions:

  • Does this person possess the right level of reasoning ability for the role?

  • Do they possess the natural characteristics to sustain a high level of performance?

  • Are their personal interests aligned with the role, thereby increasing the likelihood they will stay longer?

As you know already, no two sales environments are the same. The reason for this is simple and yet complex. It can be because of the types of products, solutions, and services you sell. It can be because your customers' environment ranges from simple to highly complex. It can also be because some deals require multiple decision-makers on the customer's side while others require just a few. And finally, some sales cycle lengths are short, while others can take more than a year to conclude. Sales managers need to be aware of all these factors when hiring a new candidate for their team or evaluating current employees' skillsets to fill any gaps that may exist. Simply put, there's no "one size fits all" when it comes to sales professionals, and your hiring considerations and processes need to reflect this reality.

So what does it take to build a high-performing sales team? As mentioned above, you need to consider reasoning ability, the natural characteristics of candidates, and their overall fit for the role relative to personal long-term interests and career goals.

So let's dig in and discuss each of these critical areas.

#1 Reasoning Ability

What is reasoning ability? It is the ability for a person to understand, reason, and solve problems. Now more than ever, sales is a field that requires high reasoning ability because it demands the individual to learn new concepts quickly, understand how they are related to one another, and then use this knowledge for problem-solving in unfamiliar situations.

Some people may find learning sales skills fairly easy, while others struggle with retaining information or adapting quickly when certain situations arise. If you hire a sales rep with low reasoning ability, they may not learn your business's offerings and nuances quickly enough. Sales reps with higher reasoning ability are more likely to perform better because their brains process information faster, allowing them to understand concepts quicker than those with lower reasoning ability. These factors undoubtedly impact the time it takes to ramp up and become self-sufficient and productive team members.

One last thing to consider when it comes to reasoning ability. If you hire a sales rep with high reasoning ability, they will be more likely to persevere and work harder than those with lower reasoning ability. When working in a sales environment that is complex and demanding, a high reasoning sales rep will be able to adapt and maintain their performance over time. Sales reps with low reasoning ability might plateau or even decline in the long term because they cannot comprehend what is being taught or what is happening in the sales environment fast enough.

#2 Natural Characteristics

To succeed in any sales role, a candidate will need the right "natural" characteristics. First and foremost, they must possess a strong desire to succeed. Simply put, they need to be competitive and have a strong individual results orientation. Salespeople need to be self-starters, have a high degree of determination and drive. They also must possess the right attitude to help them succeed in any sales environment; for example, they should have a high level of optimism to rebound from adversity or failure. Sales reps with a naturally high level of 'take charge' will be more likely to lead customers and prospects through a sale. Act as a guide, a resource, and an inspiration to the customer. And finally, top-performing salespeople will act with a sense of urgency. Whether you operate in a short transactional sales cycle or a long complex one, creating a sense of urgency to move a deal forward is essential to success.

#3 Alignment of Interests

How often have you hired a sales rep who performs at or above average for a year or so and then gives their notice and tells you they are changing careers altogether? We've all had it happen. But it's important to understand why it happens so we can avoid it going forward. In short, this happens when there is poor alignment between your employees' personal interests, long-term career goals, and the sales profession. Sales reps passionate about business and people service and possess a high degree of interest in sales will be more likely to stay with you for an extended period. When interests and roles are not aligned, they will only stay with you until they are prepared and ready to jump ship to pursue their real and desired career.

We understand that it can be hard to find the right people. That's why we offer sales-specific candidate assessments. Our assessments provide you access to more data points to help you to avoid making a bad hire.

In fact, our sales assessments are designed specifically to predict:

  1. The likelihood of a candidate ramping up quickly,

  2. The likelihood of a candidate being able to sustain a level of sales performance

  3. The likelihood of a candidate's sales longevity

To learn more about structuring a productive sales interview, get a copy of our ebook, 3 Essential Resources for Interviewing Sales Candidates. You’ll get an outline for the perfect interview, a list of questions to ask (and ones to avoid), and a candidate evaluation form to ensure you and your team have a unified scoring method for candidates.

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