Hiring Outside Sales Professionals - Qualities you should care about and one you shouldn't

If you're a seasoned Sales Manager, VP of Sales, Director of Business Development or the like, a portion of your time is spent finding qualified and successful outside sales professionals to join your team and increase your organization's revenue. With a decade plus of sales experience, you may think you know what qualities will make a successful hire, but there's probably a few you haven't given as much credit as you should. 

Here are a few qualities you may overlook when hiring outside sales professionals in the industrial automation, fluid power, power transmission, and similar industrial spaces. 

1. Egotistical 

With a predominantly negative connotation, candidates with an ego are often pushed to the side. They may be perceived as hard to work with and stuck in their ways, but someone with an ego usually grew one over time. In the sales world, an ego can be a good thing: it indicates confidence, motivation and a competitive spirit. These individuals probably have past success to support that confidence as well. In sales, you want someone with these qualities. 

2. Family oriented

You might be dettered by candidates who identify as family oriented because your openings probably consist of a lot of travel and time outside the home. You might think these potential hires will eventually opt for a job closer to home with a more structured schedule, but in reality, these individuals are determined to provide for their family and succeed. They also work efficiently so not to waste any precious time away from their loved ones. The key with this trait is to not assume that "family-oriented" also means "not dedicated to the job." 

3. Emotional 

Now we're not talking anger-filled outbursts and violent mood swings here, we're talking empathy. Empathetic candidates may come off as overly emotional or distracted in an office setting. Hiring authorities often want to shy away from someone with these qualities and opt for a more focused candidate who they think will be more inclined to drive revenue.

You may believe that you have to have a tough exterior and straight-to-the-point mentality in order to be a good salesperson, but we know that someone with empathy can make connections with people easily. In sales, it is crucial to connect with the customer and an empathetic employee could make the connection a previous hard-sell needs in order to convert. 

4. Inquisitive, or questions authority 

When bringing on a new employee, you may want them to "sell by the book" and follow your methods to the T. It's possible you will be deterred by candidates who are highly inquisitive or seem to question authority for this reason. An inquisitive nature should be considered a positive trait because it shows a sense of creativity and problem solving skills. An inquisitive candidate could be just who you need to take your business to the next level. 

You should care about the qualities we've outlined above and we hope you're not as quick to dismiss candidate's who have them. Something you consider a negative, could actually be a positive when it comes to being a strong sales person. While there are a lot of qualities you should care about, but here's one you shouldn't. 

Experience 

Ok, don't dismiss us just yet, hear us out. Why shouldn't you care about experience? Because you're probably looking for someone with a very specific number of years experience selling exactly what you sell, and you're limiting your pool of qualified candidates drastically if you are. We get it, you don't want to spend time training new hires on the industry and products you make and sell; and you want someone who can jump right in head first.

But the fact is, you will have to train any new hire on these things regardless. Every company has their own processes and special features and key selling points that a new employee will have to learn. So, what you should be looking at with potential candidates is their technical aptitude and ability to learn.

  • Can a prospective sales employee understand complex systems and explain your technical processes and features eloquently?
  • Can they learn your key features quickly and relay what they've learned accurately and positively?

You should look at experience as a sliding scale and a broad picture when screening candidates rather than pigeon-holing your company without any qualified individuals to dig you out. 

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