Are you looking to hire a junior sales person, but don’t know what qualities to test for at interview? Things have changed considerably, gone are the days of aggressive selling and strong objection handling. The rise of the internet has given consumers a choice and more power, so aggressive sales tactics to bully someone into a purchase will no longer work.
We see this played out everywhere. Now customers respond to sales people who are helpful, intelligent and respectful of the customers needs and wants. These are the qualities tech companies should look for when hiring junior sales people.
That means when you’re hiring a junior sales person the characteristics you are looking for have changed. Here are 10 qualities we think you should be looking for in your junior sales people. How many of these do you actively test for at interview?
Preparation for meetings with prospects is all important for a junior sales person. A sales rep who doesn’t know what information they want to find out or what their goal is ahead of the exchange will likely be ineffective. Testing for someone who is a natural planner will pay dividends.
The success of a junior sales person can be attributed to many characteristics; but one critical factor is how adaptable they are. Good sales people work to improve the buyers experience, and can cope with detours, changes to briefs, and let-downs.
Great sales people don’t wait for leads to be delivered to them by the marketing team, they go out and find them, especially if they are behind target that month. It’s all about the ability to adapt to the environment you suddenly find yourself in, and make the most of it.
A question you might ask to test for adaptability is “can you tell me about a time when you had to change what you were doing for the greater good of the project you were working on”.
Product training is one of the very first things a junior sales rep is given. They should be able to explain in detail how your product or service functions, before they are let near a customer. A deep working knowledge of the product is something that separates the good from the great, and someone who doesn’t understand what they are selling will always be completely ineffective.
So when you’re hiring, you’re looking for someone who has already understood what you do, what value your business offers and why it appeals to your customers. You are also more than likely looking for someone who is naturally tech savvy, and can pick up new systems easily.
Often when employers say they are looking for an intelligent person, what they mean is someone who has the ability to read between the lines and take meaning from what a customer is telling them; someone who is an emotionally intelligent person. Quite often a customer will not explicitly state what the problem is, so it’s the sales person’s job to work out their pain points and put their mind at rest.
Good education grades can be an indicator of intelligence, but an indicator of emotional intelligence may be better drawn out by well thought through competency interview questions.
A sales rep who is ok hearing “no” over and over is someone worth their weight in gold. Usually it’s their passion that gives them the motivation to keep plugging away. People buy from passionate people. If the junior sales person is passionate about your company and your product and believes in what you do they will likely do well. So look for someone who is passionate about your industry or their passion for the sales process and selling shines through naturally.
Ability to build rapport
Typically junior sales reps will not be meeting with prospects face-to-face, and so you could say that they are at a disadvantage when it comes to rapport building. Some people have a natural ability to create an instant rapport with people, others work to research prospects in advance to find common ground in order to build rapport. It doesn’t really matter which it is, but you’re looking for someone who knows they need to chat about sports, the weather, a recent event, or something topical.
Sales is commonly associated with chatterboxes and people who love to talk, but listening well is another story and arguably more important. To be successful junior sales reps need to become proficient in listening and understanding their customers needs, then asking intelligent follow-up questions so they can learn more about their business and pain points. When hiring you’re looking for candidates who can listen to some information, understand what they’ve been told, and use that information to make an informed next step.
Most people are surprised this isn’t number 1 on the list. And, of course, exceptional communication skills are key for a sales person. On the phone you are looking for confidence, an even tone, good volume (but not too loud or shouty) and pace, many people talk too quickly! In writing you are looking for well crafted text, not too wordy, concise with good spelling, grammar and punctuation. Look for whether the junior is able to let their emotion and personality shine through when they are interviewing. Are they human, are you drawn to them, and do you want to talk to them more?
Junior sales reps must be coachable. It’s a high predictor of success. By this I mean they take constructive feedback well, understand and absorb it and work to improve for next time. In tech companies, especially smaller companies, products, services and processes change and sometimes quite dramatically. You are looking for someone who can cope with new information whether it’s about them and their sales style or about a change or something new in the company and incorporate it into their sales pitch without too much trouble.
The most effective junior sales reps are able to make the most of their time, with more calls and connections than other junior sales reps. The key to being highly productive is having good time management skills. You may need to train juniors to prioritise and sort through leads to find the most promising ones, and not waste too much time on a deal that isn’t going anywhere.
Working on efficiency with juniors will pay huge dividends. It’s vital to make the most of the hours in the day to bring in more deals per rep.
As I mentioned at the start, it's no longer about twisting someone’s arm into buying, but objection handling does, of course, still exist because customers will always have objections. First the junior will have to start to learn what the common objections are, and how to ask good questions to find out what is the root of the problem.
A junior sales rep candidate must not be scared to ask sometimes difficult questions politely but firmly, to find out where they stand. The best way to test for this is by doing role plays with candidates and seeing how they would handle common objections.
Demo or technical skills
For many tech companies the demo is a critical part of the sales process. Sales reps have to be able to demo the product as well as explain it. Demos shouldn’t be a walkthrough of core features, every demo should change depending on the customers needs and pain points. The sales rep must first find out what the customer’s main pain points are, and then perform a demo to show how the product addresses and solves their problems. So you’re looking for an ability to think on your feet, coupled with being technically confident with the product.
There are numerous ways to test for these qualities during your interview process including well thought through competency questions, role plays, and presentations. At DigitalGrads we recommend you include a phone call and one or two face to face interviews that comprise all of these activities and you score the candidates using a scoresheet which we can provide for you.
If you’d like to chat to us about hiring junior sales people please get in touch on 020 3917 0790 or you can take a look at our junior sales rep candidates.