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Where are the Good Salespeople? 12 Questions to Ask

The other day, I was in a meeting where someone was remarking about how difficult it is to find “good salespeople.” She was expressing frustration because she’s hired salespeople who look good during the hiring process, but quickly fail in her environment. Of course, my first inclination was to introduce her to our sales assessments, but I stopped myself because her issue goes beyond screening candidates. It’s a common question that’s rarely answered directly: Where are the good salespeople? The reason people don’t have a good answer is because it’s difficult to say what makes “good salespeople.” First, it's tough to find good salespeople because even bad salespeople are skilled at selling themselves. I've written about this before. But the bigger issue for the woman in my meeting (and maybe you, too) is that there's a tendency to believe that the only good salespeople come from whatever industry you're operating within. That makes hiring good salespeople difficult because capturing a truly great salesperson from a competitor is challenging. Instead, it's easier to find someone's worst performer (or at least an average one). Why? Because your competitors likely do their best to keep their top performers happy. So stop looking at the same people! Get a fresh perspective by looking outside of your industry. How do you do that since your business is unique? Start by asking these questions:

  1. How complex is my selling environment?
  2. Do I sell through distribution or directly to end-users?
  3. How long is my sales cycle?
  4. How easy is it to access decision makers?
  5. How new is my market?
  6. How new is our industry?
  7. Are we selling a high-tech offering or a low-tech one?
  8. How much technology is used by your salespeople?
  9. How much technology is used by your clients?
  10. How competitive is the industry I'm in?
  11. How differentiated is our offering?
  12. How customized is our offering?

Once you have a clearer picture of what selling for you looks like, you can begin to look outside your industry. By the way, a truly skilled salesperson doesn't need a huge contact list. Instead, if he or she has built one in a similar selling situation before, they can do it again! - @JebBrooks