Since my last post, I went to the Sales 2.0 Conference hosted by Selling Power in San Francisco. The experience couldn’t have been better timed for gathering info on the perfect inside sales profile, as it was packed to the roof with sales managers, technology vendors and other industry experts that make up what I like to call the “Sales 2.0 Mafia.” In addition there were several “how to” presentations about getting the most out of your sales teams- most of them by managers of either inside exclusive or hybrid (prospecting phone and in-person sales) teams. Despite limited feedback that the show was a bit “pitch oriented,” there was a VERY impressive buzz around the technologies and processes that are out there to help companies get more out of less from their sales efforts.
Allow me to tackle the most important characteristics to look for in your phone warriors…
1. Persistence. As much as I hate the stereotype of the not-so-swift sales guy, this isn’t a talent contest. If you’re smart you might not have to learn every lesson the hard way and you might be able to work less to achieve the same result, but persistence rules the roost when it comes to selling. Just like most things- whoever wants it the most gets it in the end.
2. Striving Attitude. There are loads of words that describe this concept-- motivated, hungry, ambitious, goal-oriented; but I’m going to get non-PC right out of the gate and say that the best phone salespeople have something to prove. I always find the most successful salespeople are driven by some inner feeling of wanting to belong. Inversely, enfranchised sales recruits all seem to have to battle down feelings of entitlement and superiority when dealing with imbecilic or hostile customers and have a harder time of it.
3. Work ethic. Sales is a numbers game, pure and simple. As much as I hate to admit it (I was always the “hit my quota and I’m gone for the quarter” type), the best inside salespeople log the most calls, send the most e-mails, do the most demos, etc. There might be aberrations here and there, but over time the guy (“sales guy” is gender neutral, I’ll remind you) who nails the metrics will make the most money- unless your comp plan is screwed up!
4. Trustworthy. Whether they earn it by being knowledgeable and dependable and always executing on promises or they just have that ability to put people at ease naturally, a good salesperson has to get beyond all the trust wreckage of the salespeople before them AND the fact that customers can’t use their eyes to verify your veracity.
5. Likable. This doesn’t necessarily mean the clichéd, gregarious, laugh-a- minute salesperson from the car dealership. Much like number #4, the person has to be able to use words, intonation, humour, confidence, common experiences or opinions, etc., to bond with the customer- without using crutches like good looks or other visual cues.
These are hard qualities to ferret out in an interview (which should initially be on the phone for obvious reasons). But if you want to stack the deck against the normal “bring in 10 and let the best 2 stay” hiring plan, look for these qualities.