The paperclips didn't need a sales pitch. Neither do your clients.


The truth? Most people don’t know what makes a good salesperson.

by GSchulz 31. May 2013 16:28
Grant is a longtime client and a friend. He owns a small products company. He asked me to assess and interview “a friend of a friend” who he is considering for a sales job. I sent the assessment to Steve, and he completed it quickly. When I looked at it, he scored high is all of the areas that would make him good for a service job, but for the type of sales Grant – and, frankly, most sales organizations – needs, he was not a fit.I spoke to Grant about this, and he said: “Can you talk to him anyway? I think you’ll really like him.”That is probably the thing I hear the most from directors and CEOs alike: “But he’s a really good guy; just talk to him.”If I had a dollar for every time I heard that and the candidate was not a fit, I would be living on the beach, enjoying a margarita.I called Steve and spoke to him for quite a while. Actually he spoke to me – frankly, at me – for quite a while. 

Yes, Steve was certainly a nice guy, friendly, outgoing. He had the gift of gab, which is quite the opposite of what I look for in a sales professional.What I thought was funny: He said he took an online career survey that said he would be good at sales. He also explained that, when he asked people who knew him best, they all said he was a natural salesperson. 

That’s another quip I hear all of the time.The truth about sales is that most people have no idea what makes a good salesperson. The common belief is if you have a good personality, are outgoing and likable, you would be good at sales. Honestly, that is far from the truth. Years ago and in certain situations, this may have worked. For example, when the economy was rockin’ and you were selling a product that everyone needed anyway and prices were fairly consistent and it was just a matter of who to get it from, maybe this would work.

Today, we need to be more skilled, more resourceful and much more consultative to persuade.Some things to look for when hiring;Preparation. Professional salespeople don’t just rely on a good personality to get the sale. They research the organization and develop good, thought-provoking questions to ask.Digging deeper. When professional salespeople get the answers to the questions they are asking, they don’t immediately flip into the selling mode. Top sales professionals take the answers to these questions and dig deeper for full understanding before they recommend anything.

Always know the next step. Professionals know that the sale is nothing without having a clear next step. Not just a follow-up call, but a true understanding of what the next step is, and when it will occur.Toughness. Ultimately top sales professionals are tough. Yes, they can be friendly and outgoing, but more importantly: Can they stand their ground when the prospect throws them a curveball? Throw them a curveball and find out. I recommend saying something like: “I’ve interviewed several people that have the same experience as you. 

Why should I hire you over them?”It’s important to put prospective hires in a situation similar to one they will be in when selling. Put a little pressure on them. Don’t sell them on working for your company; make them sell you and see how they do. That is their job.Greta Schulz is a sales consultant for businesses and entrepreneurs.

For more sales training tips and tools, or to ask her a question, go to or email Click here to share this post.

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