Good salespeople have excellent interpersonal skills. Good salespeople are attentive, polite and they possess a sense of urgency to want to help. I call these the ‘non-teachables’. A person can have immense product knowledge, but that does not make them a salesperson. You can invest days into training someone you’ve hired, but at the end of it if they don’t have the non-teachables to begin with, then it will be a struggle for both parties throughout the relationship.
The next time you need to hire a salesperson, make sure they possess the non-teachables. You can train them how to apply makeup, put an outfit together or the difference between widget A and widget B.
How do you find out if a candidate has what your looking for? Here are two interview questions/practices that will tell you whether you should wrap up the interview sooner rather than later or spend more time getting to know the candidate.
(1) Tell them a short background story about the company you represent. When you are talking to them, are they actively listening, engaged, do you feel as if they are ‘with you’? Watch their behavior and then ask them what stood out to them about the story? Can they tell the story back in a shorter version and include some relevant details? Can they add to the story based on the research they did about the company prior to meeting with you? Meaningful research is key and meaningful is not information found on the landing page of a company's website.
(2) Give them the following scenario; it’s your first day at work and you haven’t had any training. You are approached by a customer inquiring about purchasing a gift for someone. What do you do? Let them tell you what they would do. Make note, do they ask questions to gather more information from the customer? Examples: Who the gift is for? What type of gift? Do they have something specific in mind? Or do they quickly tell the customer that it’s their first day and they go to find someone else to help them without asking questions. It’s ok that they find another salesperson, but when handing the customer over they should be able to say ‘She is looking for a birthday gift for a 12 year old girl. A stuffed animal is on the list. Can you point us in the right direction and I will take her there or would you prefer to walk with her?’ How far is the candidate willing to go to ensure the customer has a good shopping experience? Does the candidate meet your expectations of ‘above and beyond’? Would you want to shop with them?
Look for the non-teachables. What they don't have, you can teach them.