Hiring the Best Sales Representative – What Do You Look For?

When I was a sales manager, I was often asked “What do you look for in the best sales representatives?” My answer then is still the same today. I look for a combination of Sherlock Holmes, P. T. Barnum, John Wayne, Red Skelton, George Armstrong Custer, and Dracula.

Sherlock Holmes, the master detective, always explored the obvious clues, but also the hidden or vague clues to unravel the mystery. I look for a sales rep that can identify not only the customer’s obvious wants, but also uncover the hidden wants, needs, and desires. This is the key to unraveling the mystery of a strong business-to-business future with this customer.

No one likes a boring, canned sales pitch that has been repeated on the last fifteen sales calls. P.T. Barnum was the master showman. Your sales presentation should catch the customer’s attention and hold it. Be animated and creative. When you leave, the customer should think to himself “Wow! I’m really glad I talked with that sales rep!”

John Wayne had an aura around him that said “Leader” and “Winner.” People want to be around “winners” and associate with “leaders.” So do customers. They want the best service and support, and no “Yes Men” need apply, thank you. I want winners and leaders on my team.

Red Skelton lit up a room when he entered. What a terrific smile. When you watched him on old TV episodes, he laughed all through the skit, especially when the skit went wrong. He enjoyed his job. I want employees with a great sense of humor, who can smile through the good times and the bad. There is a distinct difference between a clown and a rep with a great sense of humor.

Anyone can be a good sales rep when everything is going his way. But what happens when the proverbial mud hits the fan? What happens when that special customer wants a pint of his sales rep’s blood? George Armstrong Custer was not afraid to stand and be counted. “Hey, give me your best shot!” could have been a phrase from Custer or it could be what a sales rep says to an unsatisfied customer. Customer service is not an oxymoron.

I am continually amazed at the number of sales reps who avoid closing a sales call. For some reason, many reps wait for the customer to close himself. “I give up, sell me!” is just not going to happen. A sales rep deserves the right to close every sales call. The strength of that right is directly proportional to the strength of the presentation. So, just like Dracula, go for the throat. Ask for the business. Close that sale.

And what do you look for in a sales representative?