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Talent & Recruitment
Jan 23, 2018 | Canadian Professional Sales Association lock

So you’ve got a sales position to fill; a void left a by a top selling star. You want to make sure that your new hire not only sticks, but excels. Going outside the pool of those with past sales experience might seem an odd move to some, but increasingly hiring managers are finding that someone from a non-sales background proves to be the golden ticket that their teams needed for sales success.

Why? Well, first of all, the qualities of a natural-born sales superstar can be found in individuals from many different career backgrounds. And second, taking someone with the natural gift for sales and then training them up to suit the needs of your organisation can help you maximise your results.

If you want to try a little blue sky thinking and hiring outside of the box, here’s how to recruit top performing salespeople in non-sales careers.

Tip One: Look for Someone with Success in Sports

As a sales manager, you know that sales pros need to be competitive and goal-orientated if they are to succeed. But if your recruiting tactic is to look for the words “goal-orientated” on a resume you probably won’t find much success since about 99% of people use that descriptor in their bio. Instead, look for people with a background or interest in sports. According a report from the Harvard Business Review, 85% of top salespeople were found to have played an individual or team sport in high school. And it makes sense; people who play competitive sports have honed the self-discipline and resiliency it takes to meet and exceed goals. So, someone who’s resume lists they were a basketball champ in college or that they compete in a hockey league as a hobby is likely to have the drive, determination and discipline it takes to meet your team’s sales goals.

Tip Two: Track Down Great Communicators

It’s not necessarily about looking for extroverts over introverts when you are looking to recruit your next top performing salesperson. It’s more about who has great communications skills and the empathy to tailor their communications style to the situation. So much of sales success is in the ability to get people to warm to you and to trust you. Being a great relationship builder and communicator comes naturally to some people whatever their current role. A compelling and persuasive cover letter is one great way to start weeding out the effective communicators. Then, in the interview itself, you can learn a lot from the way they answer questions, their body language, their confidence and their ability to think of their feet. Here your gut check is important. If they come across as persuasive yet likeable in the interview, it’s a great sign they’ll be primed for sales success.

Tip Three: Test for Conscientiousness

While it might not strike you as one of the top things to look for in prospective sales candidate, conscientiousness is paramount in sales. The salespeople who consistently make quota are the ones who are responsible, reliable, organised and achievement oriented. While it might not sound sexy, conscientious sales pros will hold themselves to a high standard and get you the results you need. But how do you test for conscientiousness? Look for people with a proven track record of success on their resume - someone who has achieved real results under difficult circumstances. In the interview, don’t just ask about a time that they achieved a goal. Whether they work as a teacher, a bartender or a personal trainer, ask about a time when they kept going at a task despite it being difficult/boring/laborious to achieve success. It’s in this answer you’ll be able to ascertain how dedicated and conscientious they are.

Learn more about screening candidates and how to recruit top performing salespeople the CPSA’s Professional Sales Management training program. You’ll discover not only how to find sales superstars in non-sales careers but how to coach them to become the selling star they deserve to be.

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