The 3 Traits Every Sales Manager Must Have to Be Good at Their Job

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I talk often about a new performance management culture taking hold in the today’s “B2All” marketplace.

To meet that challenge, leadership skills must evolve. Your sales manager’s number one job now is to teach and refine the skills of sellers to help them hit their peak and stay there.

So what’s the best way to make that happen: Simply turning your existing top sellers into leaders? Not so fast!

A great manager isn’t just a sales performer with enhanced decision making authority. There’s a crucial yet overlooked fact about these two roles in your sales organization: Their skills are not automatically transferrable. You don’t create a great leader just by promoting a top seller.

Want more insights from Colleen? Register now to hear her speak at Inbound Sales Day, a free event on June 6, 2017.

Unless you distinguish selling skills from leadership skills, you can put your entire sales team at risk of underperforming.

Prioritize Mindset Over Sales Performance

Selling is not a team sport — most top sellers do their best working solo. Managing people, on the other hand, is all about working with others.

When scouting for a sales leader, be on the lookout for a team-focused mindset ahead of their personal sales record. Why? Because a great leader is persuasive in winning hearts and minds. They’re selling to your team, not to your customers.

They help each member understand his or her responsibility for overall results: The performance of one seller can either lift or sink everyone. They’re gifted in their flexibility — able to modify, reshape and rebuild a sales group to suit changing conditions or requirements.

Look for Collaborators, Not Competitors

Top leaders show up for others. Top sellers show up for themselves. That’s not a criticism of the latter: Self-interest is a powerful quality in sales. But it’s poison in the business of managing people. Leaders are invested in their team. They show up at sales meetings and training events, ready to contribute and share what they know. They sit in on coaching calls. And they prioritize that type of work ahead of all other activities.

Your top sellers, when left to their own devices, are likelier to keep their distance. They’re thinking about when they will make their next sale, rather than who they can help next. This tendency is valuable in a sales position but potentially lethal in a leadership role.

Find People Who Can Measure Success Differently

Your best leaders understand and accept it’s not their job to be the best seller on the team. They succeed in their job only when their staff are outperforming what they once achieved as sellers themselves.

They communicate generously: Sharing wins, giving credit to others, and ensuring everyone has the resources and support necessary to win. They don’t horde information. They lead by example where loyalty is concerned. That means they fully support each seller in their team — even the struggling ones. They take decisive action to cut and replace only when it’s clear every other avenue has been exhausted.
 
You can teach someone to harness that sense of presence, to adopt a team mindset, and to look at success differently than as a seller. It’s a mistake, however, to assume all this will just appear on its own once you put them in a leadership role. Far too many companies — even after they’ve made a great pick for a sales manager — don’t invest a dime in training them. That’s a surefire way to wind up with a frustrated manager and a demoralized sales team.

Distinguish people skills from selling skills. Be ready to train and refine both. All this will put your organization on the path to success.

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Source: The 3 Traits Every Sales Manager Must Have to Be Good at Their Job
blog.hubspot.com/sales

3 Warning Signs You Shouldn't Be in Sales

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In almost any career, selling skills are important. Whether you’re fundraising for your startup, getting early adopters for your product, or convincing internal stakeholders to back your campaign, knowing how to show others the value of your idea or solution will make a huge impact on your career.

I fundamentally believe that anyone can learn how to sell. But I also believe that others are better at selling than most, and you should think carefully before making sales your career. After all, there’s a vast difference between getting exposure to sales and learning selling techniques — and choosing to work in a sales role for the rest of your life.

Here are three reasons you shouldn’t choose a sales career. If you’re in sales and relate to any of these points, you might want to think about other options.

1) You’re more passionate about “making” than “influencing”

If you are passionate about making things, such as apps, software, or physical products from furniture to cars, a career in sales may not be the best fit for you.

Many people love working on projects for weeks on end by themselves and developing something beautiful or inventive. My co-founder and Elucify CEO Gerald Fong comes to mind. If you’re passionate about being a “maker,” then a sales career probably isn’t a fit for you.

That’s not to say that you can’t be a maker while you are in sales, although it is a bit harder and you may end up satisfying your “maker” passion as a side hobby.

Sales involves honing your influence and using human psychology, along with constantly interacting with prospects face-to-face and/or virtually. If you’re someone with the maker mentality, you’ll probably find this distracting.

2) You aren’t comfortable with a volatile paycheck

This is an objective point, separate from the question of whether your personality is a fit for sales.

Sales is inherently volatile. At many companies, you’ll receive a relatively low base pay — how much money you take home every month will hinge on your commission payments. That means significant uncertainty about how your paycheck will look every month.

There may be some months where you can barely pay the rent because you just met quota (or missed it). There will be other months where you’ll buy all your friends a drink because you beat quota (well, hopefully you’re not as bad with money as I once was.)

If you’re not comfortable with financial uncertainty, the anxiety will take a toll.

I had a friend who did well at sales and always made his quota yet couldn’t live with the monthly stress of wondering whether he’d be able to pay his bills. These concerns decrease over time as you become a better salesperson and receive a higher base pay — but you need thick skin to deal with it in the initial stages of your career.

3) You have a fear of rejection

I think everyone has a fear of rejection when they start out in sales. Many salespeople never get over it.

But if you don’t become accustomed to rejection, you might want to look for a different career.

One of my managers used to say, “You’re in sales to get rejected 90% of the time, but you are in hot pursuit of the 10% of customers who actually like you and your product.”

This rejection can come at any time. In sales, sometimes people will get mad at you for doing your job, not for anything you’ve said or done.

If that scares the sh*t out of you, you’ve got a hard road ahead. You can build up a stomach for rejection, but some people are better at this than others.

Not being a fit for sales isn’t a bad thing, nor does it mean you should never sell. It simply means you shouldn’t pursue a sales career. To be most successful, find the roles you are optimized for.

HubSpot Free Sales Training

Source: 3 Warning Signs You Shouldn't Be in Sales
blog.hubspot.com/sales

5 Reasons You DON'T Want a Team of Top Salespeople

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A company retained a sales consultant to increase sales. After visiting clients, observing the sales team, and quickly identifying ways to improve, the consultant worked closely with the Head of Sales to put in place a plan that yielded a 20% increase in sales revenue for the company over a six-month period.

However, net revenues plummeted. The problem: Operational capacity reached its limit, leading to rapidly declining service. Existing customers moved to other suppliers — and the plunge in retention far outweighed the new business.

Senior board members were furious, the consultant was fired, and the company attempted to recover the deficit by reverting to their previous processes. True story!

If building a world-class sales team is the goal, a company needs people who know what world-class looks like. This might include hiring a consultant to train teams and align internal processes, hiring a new breed of A-player salespeople, or creating a new leadership function. Whichever strategy is chosen, the result is great change within the organization.

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Without a strong foundation, aspiring to a world-class sales function is usually a waste of time. Here are five reasons this goal can be a costly, unproductive nightmare:

1) Lack of company-wide alignment

In the above example, the project was seen as a sales problem and managed in isolation. Sales performance improved, but no one considered the effects on other areas of the business. Aligning departments begins by agreeing on the company mission statement and goals, and ensuring a consistent message is delivered in every aspect of communication. Within this process, all departments must agree on the necessary changes to make the initiative work.

Aspiring to deliver world-class sales performance is a mentality that must be adopted by all areas of a business.

2) The company culture isn’t geared to high performance

This is a complex topic. For example, putting an A-player hire into a team of B-player sales reps has a high probability of disaster. Hiring an A-player without ensuring the support functions are ready to embrace a higher standard can also lead to operational resistance, isolation of the new hire, and a breakdown of departmental relationships. Leadership must understand how to integrate these people and manage the peripheral issues, such as the potential need for a new compensation plan, managing team morale and perceived preferential treatment of the new hire, as well as explaining the allocation of key accounts to the more experienced sales hire.

3) Building a world class sales team is expensive

The hiring, training, acquisition of new technology and altering the sales enablement process takes both time and resources. This must be balanced with the anticipated increase in revenues and potential disruption to the business.

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4) It opens your employees to being poached

Sales professionals are often the hottest asset in the industry, so it is crucial that companies inspire a culture of loyalty. This can be done with equity, remodeling incentive plans, and reconfirmation of the company values, but it should be decided before the process begins. See Dov Baron’s leadership book, Fiercely Loyal: How High Performing Companies Develop and Retain Top Talent.

5) The C-suite doesn’t fully support the initiative 

Business and process transformation must be led from the top. Building a world-class sales team isn’t achieved by simply hiring a sales trainer, but is a challenging process and needs to be supported by the board. In this regard, world-class leadership is an essential component.

So, is world-class really the goal?

Before making the investment, carefully consider the company culture and capacity of every function and compare the ROI with low-impact ways to increase revenue.

Without these five things in place, over-investment in increasing sales performance and a lack of company cohesion might be unnecessary, therefore failing to yield the desired results.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it. You can also download my 2017 research paper: The Impact of Social Selling on the B2B Landscape in the U.K. vs. U.S.A. Free to download from the homepage.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Lee Bartlett’s blog and has been republished here with permission.

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Source: 5 Reasons You DON'T Want a Team of Top Salespeople
blog.hubspot.com/sales

The Ultimate Guide to Outside Sales

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Before the advent of web conferencing tools, “sales” and “outside sales” were synonymous. These days, reps can easily talk to prospects on the other side of the state, country, and even world.

But does that mean field sales has lost all value?

While inside sales is growing at a far faster rate than outside sales, there is still a true need in some industries for good old-fashioned face-to-face selling.

To help you navigate the world of outside sales, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide covering:

Outside sales definition

Outside sales (a.k.a. field sales) is a type of selling strategy where reps meet prospects face-to-face. Field salespeople typically spend a lot of time traveling within their given sales territory.

What is an outside sales rep?

A field salesperson manages new and existing customer relationships within her territory. Unlike an inside sales rep, she meets with her prospects and clients in person — usually at their offices, but occasionally at trade shows, conferences, and other industry events.

Outside sales representative salary

According to PayScale, the median take-home salary for outside sales reps is approximately $53,000. Commissions make up 25% of those earnings.

Outside sales skills

PayScale surveyed outside salespeople and found the most common skills include customer relations, new business development, account management, and account sales.
Having technical sales knowledge can increase a field sales rep’s salary by 24%, while new business development and strategic selling skills translate to a 10-24% earnings boost.

Outside sales vs. inside sales

Inside salespeople usually sell products with shorter sales cycles. Their deals are higher volume and more transactional. Outside reps tend to have longer and more complex sales processes.

Inside reps rely on phone, email, and virtual meetings to communicate with buyers and customers, whereas outside reps use phone and email to set up appointments and in-person meetings to qualify, identify needs, present value, and negotiate.

An inside salesperson has a fairly set, predictable schedule. Each day, they must drive a certain level of activity — dials, meetings booked, proposals sent, and so on.

An outside salesperson, on the other hand, has a flexible, varied schedule. Because they travel often, their days are anything but regular. Outside reps typically have more autonomy (not to mention, their manager might see them as infrequently as once a quarter).

How to choose an inside or outside sales strategy

Making the call on inside sales versus outside depends on a few factors.

First, does your offering require a physical demo? Some products, like medical equipment or industrial machinery, can’t be demoed remotely. But that doesn’t mean outside sales is automatically the right fit — it might be possible to use other resources, such as product specs, videos, and customer testimonials, to present your solution to the buyer without physically bringing it to them.

Outside sales is inherently more expensive. You must pay for your reps’ travel, food, and lodging on the road. In addition, outside sales reps usually have higher base salaries. According to SalesLoft, they earn 12-18% more than inside reps. Keep in mind that outside salespeople also usually have more experience — which unsurprisingly boosts their earnings.

Although video conferencing tools and sales and marketing automation platforms have made it far easier to sell to prospects from hundreds or thousands of miles away, outside sales is more effective on the whole. Some studies have found field reps have a 22% higher win rate than inside reps. Again, it’s difficult to entirely separate this statistic from other variables. Taking a face-to-face meeting signals much higher buying intent than a virtual one, so it may be that field reps are working with more committed prospects and can therefore close deals at a greater rate.

One of the most important aspects of this decision is your buyer personas. Some prospects, like college professors and physicians, are accustomed to field salespeople. If you try to change their buying process, they might opt for your competitor. Use your influence on selling your product, not changing how they evaluate and make purchasing decisions.

Some prospects are extremely comfortable with buying products remotely — in fact, using a field sales approach might make your company seem out-of-touch. Startups tend to be in this category.

And with an increasing number of people avoiding all direct contact with a rep (preferring to buy things by themselves or using chat to ask questions rather than a phone call), inside sales will probably become the optimal approach for more and more industries.

Inside and outside sales working together

Inside sales and outside sales aren’t mutually exclusive. Many companies are taking a mixed approach: A team of inside reps will prospect and qualify, then hand off good-fit prospects to outside reps who will take the deal over the finish line.

Alternatively, some salespeople handle the first part of the sales process from their office and then travel for opportunities in the middle or end of the funnel. This allows them to focus their energy and attention on the deals likeliest to close.

Whatever you choose, keep an eye on the ROI of your sales team. Measure average revenue per salesperson and average cost per salesperson (including travel, other expenses, and total salary).

You should also compare your cost-of-sales to other companies in your space to get a sense of how productive your sales team is.

Finally, monitor your reps’ conversion rates through every stage of the sales process. Identifying where prospects tend to fall out of the funnel helps you decide where to use an inside versus outside strategy. For instance, if 98% of initial meetings are generating follow-up appointments, your reps are probably over-qualifying — and leaving money on the table.
To make sure you’re not ignoring potentially valuable opportunities, you could hire inside reps to prospect. This hiring investment will drastically drive up the number of meetings your salespeople can book. Your conversion rate will go down, but your overall revenue should climb.

Hiring outside sales reps

Finding a skilled outside salesperson isn’t always easy. Use these resources to build a top-performing field sales team.

Outside sales rep job description

[Company name] is looking for an outside salesperson [in X location, to serve Y territory]. The ideal candidate will have a combination of these skills:

  • Use X channels to connect with [prospect job title]
  • Qualify leads based on [company’s] strategy and qualification framework
  • Book approximately X [meetings, demos, presentations] per month
  • Travel [X percentage of the time, Y days per week, around Z region on a daily basis]
  • Identify customer needs and tailor our product’s value to those needs
  • Promote [company] brand by offering unexpected insights and thought leadership
  • Conduct in-depth research on prospects using [LinkedIn, Datanyze, Mattermark, etc.]
  • Forecast revenue and proactively course-correct what’s not working or double down on what is
  • Maintain existing relationships and identify opportunities to grow named accounts

Qualifications

You don’t need to fit every bullet on this list to apply. But succeeding in this role typically requires [X%, a majority of] these qualifications.

  • Bachelor’s degree from accredited university
  • Familiarity with a CRM
  • [X years] of sales experience — especially if you have previously worked [in X field, with Y market, in Z location]
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to work autonomously, prioritize, and manage your time
  • Proven ability to meet quota
  • Negotiation skills

Outside sales interview questions

Use this checklist to identify the best candidates — from their performance and hard skills to problem-solving approach and work style.

Sales performance interview questions

1) Which techniques or strategies did you use to show your product’s value?

2) Describe a competitive situation you ultimately won. What accounted for your success?

3) Have you dealt with a territory shift in a former sales job? How did you handle it?

4) Tell me about a hard-to-convince prospect and how you managed to win them over.

5) How many times have you beat your quota? What did those months or quarters have in common?

6) What’s the length of your current sales cycle?

7) What are the most common reasons you lose deals?

Sales skills interview questions

8) How do you typically build rapport with prospects?

9) What are your favorite prospecting channels?

10) Would you rather call or email prospects? Why?

11) What role does social media play in your sales process?

12) Which questions do you like to use to qualify prospects?

13) What’s your negotiation style?

14) What’s your average close rate?

15) How closely do you work with the other members of your sales team?

16) How do you deal with rejection?

17) How do you prioritize your time?

18) Do you follow any selling methodologies (the Challenger Sale, SPIN Selling, etc.)

19) How do you stay up-to-date on the industry? Which blogs, websites, publications, and/or newsletters do you read?

20) Which part of the sales process are you most comfortable with? Least comfortable with?

21) How do you prepare for meetings with new prospects?

22) When do you decide to walk away from a buyer?

23) Which technologies and tools are you familiar with? Which ones do you use on a daily basis?

24) How do you use them?

25) Have you experienced a sales slump? How were you able to overcome it?

Personality fit interview questions

26) What drives you to succeed?

27) In an ideal world, how frequently would you collaborate with your team members?

28) What would you like to achieve in the next three to five years?

29) How do you prefer to work with your sales manager?

30) How much feedback and direction do you currently receive from your sales manager? Would you prefer more or less autonomy? Why?

31) Describe your optimal sales environment.

32) What are you looking forward to in this role?

Outside sales interview questions

33) Are you comfortable traveling [X% of the time]?

34) Describe your ability to sell in a face-to-face setting.

35) What makes you nervous about a field sales job, if anything?

36) What do you anticipate will be the main challenges of a field sales role?

Outside sales tips

The fundamentals of selling don’t change: Add value with every interaction; tailor your product’s benefits to their situation, pain points, and opportunities; adapt your sales strategy to their buying process; qualify them properly; establish urgency; and so on.

However, there are a few unique aspects of outside sales that reps should be aware of.

First, be extremely diligent about logging your notes and activity in your CRM. This is tough when you’re always on-the-go — but if you try to keep everything in your head, rather than in the system, you’ll forget crucial details and let tasks slip through the cracks.

Look for a CRM with an easy-to-use, full-feature mobile app. The easier it is to pull out your phone after a meeting with a prospect and update the opportunity, the likelier you are to do it.

Second, replace face-to-face meetings with virtual ones when you can. If you’re taking a risk on a buyer, suggest speaking over Skype or Zoom before you invest precious time and resources into flying to meet them. You’ll find many prospects would rather have an online meeting, anyway.

Once you’ve qualified a buyer and are ready to move the sales conversation forward, schedule an in-person appointment.

Third, proactively get help from your sales manager. Because you’re rarely — if ever — in the same place, spontaneous coaching opportunities are a lot harder to come by. You’ll need to take the initiative. Your manager can make a huge positive impact on your career: Not only can she give you tips and share best practices, she can also influence your results via territory and lead assignments.

Rather than waiting for her to set up a check-in or ask how you’re doing, take control. Schedule call and pipeline reviews yourself, and go to her when you’re facing a significant obstacle.

Fourth, pay attention to your in-person impression. In field sales, appearances matter. Are you consistently on-time, polite (to everyone in the office, not just the decision makers), and appropriately dressed? Different offices have different dress codes, so look at the company’s website to figure out how formal your outfit should be. You can also ask the office manager for help — call or email them and say, “I’m visiting [prospect] on [date] and was wondering what the general dress code is.”

Fifth, use technology to optimize your route. If you’re visiting more than one company in a trip, consider using a route planning app. This tool will let you minimize driving or flying distance, prioritize your prospects, and manage your appointments. Some even connect to your CRM for painless follow-up.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

The 16-Minute Exercise That Turns New Sales Hires into Top Performers 3X Faster

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I always have lived by the motto, “Time and pressure make diamonds.”
In business, we always have enough pressure but never enough time.

This being said, when new hires start in sales, marketing, or any department, I do something with everyone which is extremely unconventional — yet always yields amazing results.

First, I set the expectation their first day will be unlike anything they’ve been through before. I also share the fact that every single person in the company has been through the same process, which highlights the common bond the training creates.

Second, I introduce them to the HR onboarding manager to go through the necessary procedures.

That normally takes the first part of the day. Then the real challenge begins.

I sit the new hire down at a desk in the corner with only four things on it:

  1. A pen
  2. A piece of paper
  3. A phone
  4. A one-page summary of what our product does

I give them 15 minutes to study the material and return with the challenge.

In my hand is a piece of paper with 10 numbers. 

“Please dial these and do your best to sell our product.”

Often the most common reaction is an open mouth.

I hear comments like “I don’t know their names” or “I’ve never done this before.” But I insist, telling them that I will be here to listen.

On average it takes four dials for them to connect with someone. Then all hell breaks loose.

The new employee doesn’t know how to introduce themselves. Some of them open with “Hi, this is [name] from [company name]; how are you today?” — and immediately receive verbal abuse.

Others panic and start apologizing. Some people just get up and walk out. I never ask them back.

For most people, the call lasts about 30 seconds to a minute, with the new employee sweating profusely and looking up at me in distress.

I extend my hand and state:

“Welcome to the family.”

What you have gone through today gives you an idea of how important each and every person is in this room.

Without Marketing, how will people recognize our name when you state it at the start of the call?

Without Sales, who else is there to take the endless pain and suffering of daily rejection

Without Engineering and Product, who can create something amazing enough to captivate and maintain the customer’s interest?

Without HR, who is there to support us during our highs and our lows?

After that one minute, you now understand everything behind our business.

You can look forward to every single day you spend at this company — because every single moment from now on will be better than this.”

Creating a moment of intense pressure accomplishes three things:

  1. It creates a permanent bond between all members of the company
  2. It instills an appreciation for the function of every department
  3. It establishes an all-time low, making all future difficulties feel minor in comparison

Back to my original adage: Time and pressure make diamonds. Through trial by fire, I create more diamonds and in a fraction of the time.

Do you agree with me, or am I taking this concept too far? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

Editor’s note: This originally appeared on LinkedIn and has been republished here with permission.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

The Best (& Most Unique) Response to "Sell Me This Pen"

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Sell me this pen. Possibly the best sales one-liner in history. Haven’t heard it before?

Coined by Jordan Belfort, a.k.a. the Wolf of Wall Street, I suggest you block out two hours of your day to watch one of the best sales movies of all time. Don’t like movies? Read his book.

In the last 10 years, I have seen many sales leaders use this question as part of their interview process to whittle out the can-dos from the can-nots.

Why Ask a Sales Candidate to “Sell Me This Pen”?

There are three standard responses to this question, which illustrate the three selling styles typically used by salespeople.

The first is known as value-added selling, where a candidate attempts to create interest by highlighting the various features of the product which make it desirable.

  • “This pen is gold — that positions you as a person of value to your peers.”
  • “This pen has refillable ink cartridges, so you’ll never need to buy a new one.”
  • “Compared to other pens, this pen is very smooth and comfortable to hold.”

The majority of people without selling experience will utilize this method. Even those who have received thorough training may succumb to the pressure of an interview and lead with comments along these lines.

The problem with value-based selling is that you show zero knowledge of what the buyer feels is important to them and thus are simply shooting in the dark with your assertions of value.

The next evolution in this method is solution based selling — where a candidate successfully asks me questions about what I look for in a pen and if I have any problems with my current one. They can then build the case that this pen will solve my needs.

  • “What is the most important thing for you when it comes to buying a pen?”
  • “What color pen are you in the market for?”
  • “What were the strengths and weaknesses of the last pen you owned?”

Candidates with an enterprise sales background normally demonstrate a strength in this area. However, many of them still hit a roadblock when the questions they ask lead to a conclusion the customer needs a product which the seller doesn’t have, i.e. a red pen instead of a black one. Furthermore, a buyer simply may not be willing to talk about their problems to someone they don’t know.

This is why it is important to find reps who demonstrate the third technique — problem creation. Instead of asking open questions, they establish a clear “ladder” for buyers to follow using questions which place the prospect in a mental state where they begin to feel a problem they didn’t originally realize they had. Ultimately, the buyer arrives at a pre-set conclusion which the sales representative has orchestrated. This outcome is a rarity — a rep who can successfully use the problem creation method is a one in a million find.

The Best Answer to “Sell Me This Pen” I’ve Ever Heard

Given that a vast majority of the sales community knows this example, I found initially that when I brought it up in interviews it drew a number of cliché or pre-prepared responses.

I came up with the idea to instead start bringing a pair of sunglasses to my interviews, which I would place next to my notepad and the candidate’s resume as they presented.

At one stage in the interview — normally toward the end — I would place my iPhone carefully on the middle of the table and say, “Sell me these sunglasses.”

I would get a number of responses, each falling into one of two buckets:

  • Feature-based selling: The candidate lists of a bunch of exciting features that the sunglasses have.
  • Solution-based selling: The candidate asks me questions about my daily life to see if the product could potentially solve any of these for me, such as, “Do you have trouble seeing while driving?” or “Do you like to go to the beach?”

After 34 interviews, I found the unicorn.

The candidate sat there in silence and didn’t ask any questions. Seeing the iPhone, they simply turned on the flashlight (which can be done without knowing the passcode on the latest versions), and said, “How would you like some sunglasses now?”

After 34 people failing before them, they went on to be the highest performer and my most loyal employee.

The moral of the story is that good sales people often solve problems but the best are able to create and then solve them.

I would love to hear about your experience below. If you are hiring, please try this and send me your feedback!

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on LinkedIn and is republished here with permission.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

10 Signs You Should Absolutely Hire That Salesperson

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I’ve interviewed more than 250 people for sales positions in the last 10 years.

Although every top candidate has different strengths, certain trends come up again and again. I’ve learned to look out for these signs during interviews — if a potential salesperson demonstrates most of them, they’re likely to be a great performer. (If they have all of them, their success is almost certain.)

Sales managers, use this list to determine whom to hire. Reps, use it to land the job you want.

1) Asks Great Questions

The quality of a salesperson’s questions during the interviews is by far the best and clearest indicator of their ability to succeed. A good question goes beyond facts the candidate could have easily learned by looking at your company website or LinkedIn page and delves into what’s needed to do well in this role.

Here are examples of questions in this category:

  • What is the revenue for this territory for the last three years? Why did the last person leave this territory?
  • Who is the number one competitor that you lose to, and what is being done to address any gaps?
  • How long is the average sales cycle? What is the current renewal rate? How many customers have multi-year contracts?
  • Do you pay salespeople commission on support renewals?
  • What is the sales manager’s style?
  • What is the most money a salesperson has earned on your team?
  • What is your average close rate? What is the average follow-on revenue for install accounts?
  • When you lose a deal, why do you lose?
  • What is the barrier to entry for another company to offer a similar solution to yours?
  • What mechanisms are in place to protect the Intellectual property of this company (patents, trademarks, etc.)?
  • What did the highest paid rep earn last year? How much did their quota increase this year?

2) Responds to New Information

It’s a positive sign if the candidate asks a question that relates to information they just learned. This shows they’ll be engaged and curious during meetings with prospects. An example would be: “You mentioned that the company recently hired a bunch of support engineers. Has there been an uptick in support tickets?”

3) Reaches Out Before the Interview

Reaching out to an interviewer before the scheduled interview shows a high level of confidence. If they ask whether there’s anything specific they should prepare — and go even further by presenting a few topics they hope to discuss — they’re definitely above average. Asking about the appropriate dress code and for the names of everyone they’ll be meeting implies they do their homework.

4) Researches You and Your Company

A good candidate has done more than just look at your LinkedIn profile. They have done things like:

  • Researched people at the company in the position they’re applying for
  • Read online reviews of the company on Glassdoor
  • Looked up reviews from Gartner or Forrester to see where your solution rates

Exceptional candidates will also review the financial health of the company and research the funders, amount of debt, and any planned discussion of future fund raising or IPOs.

5) Treats every employee as part of the evaluation process

Good candidates treat HR and administrative staff as a vital part of the interview experience. They recognize the process of setting up the meeting, exchanging emails, returning phone calls, sharing documents, and coordinating the onsite visit give valuable insight into what this person will be like to work with in the future.

6) Shows Good Body Language

Body language drives a lot of non-verbal communication. Look for candidates who are confident, maintain an upright posture, and make enough eye contact.

7) Plays Conversational Tennis

Good interviewees understand the cadence of the conversation and know when to cut answers short and when to re-engage the interviewer with a question. These discussions should not be one-sided. A candidate who can read you well will also read your customers well and recognize when to speak and when to listen.

8) Teaches

Great candidates have strong opinions and are willing to share their views. A candidate once shared with me how much value he saw in the Challenger Sales method and asked if I was familiar with the concept. He attributed this book to his early sales success

9) Knows Their Greatest Non-Work Accomplishment

Great salespeople have accomplishments outside of work that demonstrate the same skills they use to succeed at work. Asking a candidate to share their greatest accomplishment gives you a window into how they plan, research, and execute their long-term goals.

10) Asks Uncomfortable Questions

Showing the courage to ask a hard question demonstrates high confidence and foreshadows how the rep will represent the company in the field.

If a candidate possesses eight to 10 of these characteristics, I recommend hiring them. And if you’re a salesperson applying for jobs, use these interview tells to get the role.

What signs do you watch for during the interview process? Let me know in the comments.

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Source: 10 Signs You Should Absolutely Hire That Salesperson
blog.hubspot.com/sales