Evaluating salespeople is no small task. A strict set of skills won't help you judge, nor does any degree really qualify true salespeople. You don't simply practice sales. You master a series of actions, skills and personality characteristics to make sales happen. Use these tips when evaluating applicants for your next sales position.
1. Industry expertise
If your industry is hyper-specific, than this could come in handy. Natural salespeople, even though they only really seem natural, can sell almost anything. Your product or service may need more than charisma though.
2. Startup/SMB/large company experience or ability to conform
It's one thing to say, "I love the high speed work environment of fast growing businesses!" It's entirely different to mean it. The same goes for any sized business at any stage of their maturation. Make sure this salesperson understands your environment, or can adapt to it.
3. Do they know outside sales or inside sales, depending on your business?
The transition is NOT always easy to make. Your business may not have the time or resources to train this new salesperson in your business's practices. You want someone who will excel in your system.
4. Is this person comfortable with teams, solitude or both?
This depends on your business size and setup. Whether you need a team player or a lone ranger, be sure to seek salespeople with the temperament (and experience, preferably) to fit your "group think." If you need someone to reach out and pass the baton, your new sales expert, who is accustomed to closing the deal, probably won't be too happy.
5. Are you paying them enough to stick around?
This depends on what you really want. If they’re in a bind, and you can pay them in their ballpark, they may take it. If you’re happy with an extremely temporary relationship with a talented seller, then that may be fine. But if they’re used to making $100,000 more than your business’s ceiling, understand what you’re entering.
6. Will this person understand your product?
This one is for those tech companies out there. Don’t stereotype or profile on this, not only is it illegal, it will harm your result. Your new employee could be anybody, but whoever it is, make sure he or she knows the finer details of your product and consumer. If not already, the new hire better be able to learn it.
7. Is your business B2C?
It may sound obvious to make sure this person has (or can) sell directly to a consumer. It takes a certain skillset, disposition and work ethic. On the other side of the coin, are you B2B? This kind of selling isn’t necessarily harder, just different.
Instead of talking to someone, who's directly buying something, you’ll probably talk to purchasing managers more often. These professionals have an understanding of your market’s landscape, your competitors, your capabilities and your overall value proposition. Plus, the buy probably won’t happen at one time, the sales pitch may cross different management levels before your potential client's ultimate decision.