What employers look for in hiring salespeople

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(MoneyWatch) Salespeople are hired to be fired. So when it comes time to find that next sales job, just what is the person doing the hiring looking for in a new salesperson?

Research suggests there are three key factors prospective employers look at to predict the success of an employee. If you hire salespeople, you should be looking for these factors. Shockingly, many sales job-seekers are unable to produce a shred of evidence that they possess any of these qualities:

Knowledge or ability to learn. Managers want proof that a potential salesperson has the necessary knowledge, training, and experience to do the job, or least the capacity to learn how to do it. Preferably, the prospective hire has both. What is important is not just the training and experience, but the demonstrated ability to learn.

Employers value certification of the ability to do the job, or certification of the knowledge and skills that would allow the new salesperson to learn how to do the job. A track record of success in similar jobs is preferred, but the key is to be able to point to evidence that demonstrates this ability to perform and learn.

Employers know that the nimbleness of their organization and the rapidly changing marketplace require them to have salespeople who can adapt and change with the marketplace. Direct experience, while relevant, is not as important as showing that you can adapt to new circumstances and perform well.

Dependability. Employers want evidence that the prospective salesperson will be dependable at work, including that the person report for work every day. Surprisingly, few prospects mention their attendance record at school, at work, or in the training/certification program they may have just completed.

There have been instances of a job candidate being selected after a lengthy interviewing process, but having minor attendance problem during the company orientation. Despite the time and energy invested in finding the salesperson, many companies perceive even minor attendance problems as early indicators of future problems and swiftly fire the lackadaisical new hire. They would not spend any more time, effort, or money on someone who was casual about showing up for work.

Punctuality. Similarly, employers want to know that a potential hire will come to work, as well as internal and client meetings, on time. Punctuality is another key attribute companies are looking for in salespeople. Face it, employers think that good attendance is not good enough; the prospective sales person should have a track record of being on time.

Habitual lateness, even just for meetings, is viewed as disrespectful. Many meetings are now virtual meetings, with remote attendees. The need to be on time becomes more critical with virtual meetings. Tying up several employees waiting for another is more than rude; this lateness becomes increasingly expensive and decreases productivity.

Being a few minutes late may not seem like a big deal, but employers view from the perspective of what it costs the business. Chronic lateness has been shown to cost employers billions of dollars.

Employers have many options in the current marketplace for recruiting salespeople. They can hire someone from within. They can hire no one and fill the position with an outside contractor. Hiring a salesperson is a big investment for most companies, and even more so for small and midsize companies.

Remember, a salesperson's ability to do the job, as well as learn and adapt to the job, are viewed as necessary, but not sufficient. Employers want salespeople who show up on time every day for every meeting or assignment. These basic guidelines can make or break a new hire.

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