An outstanding salesperson will also be an expert storyteller and empathic, Shweta Jhajharia, founder of The London Coaching Group, said.
According to the latest research by Caliper Corp, a talent management company, 55 per cent of the sales workforce lack the qualities required to succeed.
Ms Jhajharia outlined five steps on how employers should interview candidates to ensure they land the salesperson best for their businesses.
The first step involves delving into the character of the prospective candidate.
Interviewers are advised to ask questions on the applicants’ upbringing and difficulties they currently face in their personal or professional life.
Ms Jhajharia said: “These questions give your candidate the opportunity to tell a story – helping you figure out if they’re a good storyteller. If they’re smart and a good salesperson, they’ll ensure the stories are centred on their strengths – showing their confidence and ego. The lessons they have learned will give insight into their empathy.”
Employers should also quiz candidates on their previous accomplishments to ascertain the individual’s levels of achievement levels, according to Ms Jhajharia.
She added: “Not only should they be natural high-achievers, they should also have the pride and self-confidence to be able to immediately name their achievements.”
In addition, company bosses might want to ask interviewees who is the best salesperson they have met to date, and how they measure up against them, the authors or educators they follow and whether they consider them as mentors.
Ms Jhajharia said: “The first question helps you assess not only their skills, but also their ego. The best answer you can get from that question is ‘me’. If they answer with someone else, the second half will give insight into where they feel their “room to grow” is.
“The next question, about their personal education, will not only reveal their accomplishments, but also their dedication to their own education.”
She added that another vital part of this step is getting a candidate to demonstrate empathy. Employers can do this by asking the candidate what their best memories are, how their friend would describe them and who they think is their biggest fan and why.
Ms Jhajharia said: “These questions give the candidates the opportunity to display their strengths and good qualities. If they aren’t taking advantage of every opportunity, they aren’t selling themselves. If they can’t sell themselves, how are they going to sell for you?”
Close scrutiny of the candidate’s CV, including questions on the individual’s employment background, is the next stage, It should draw something controversial out of the interviewee – to see how they face situations that are typically difficult in the boss-staff relationship, Ms Jhajharia said.
The final step, dubbed the ultimate ego test, requires a heavy-handed approach to challenge the applicants’ claims – devised to separate the credible from the unsuitable candidates.