Top Skills and Qualities that a Sales Leader looks for in his team members/ during recruitments

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Whenever someone meets me for an interview, I talk to them in detail, giving them ample time to express and explain themselves.  I make them comfortable, offer them tea or coffee, and chat with them like a friend. Chat… not ask questions back to back like a typical interview session. I don’t follow any format and continue the conversation taking cues from what they say or start with.

Now here are few things that I look for and I’m quite sure that many of my peers in other organizations also look for in a candidate who has come for a job in SALES. Please note that I have mentioned “a job in sales” NOT “a job in advertising sales on a tv channel”. 

Following are the sales skills and competencies that will make you a deserving candidate:

1. The way you dress and carry yourself:

The ‘first impression is the last impression!’. The way you dress, be it formal which is preferred, or smart casuals on a Friday or Saturday tells a lot about you. No need to wear only great brands, but the clothes need to be tidy and should have a crisp look as much as possible. Casuals are a complete no-no.

2. The communication ability:

The way you communicate,  a firm handshake, the way you sit upright (no slouch), the clarity in thought process, the way you can continue the conversation, keep switching topics but still come back to the place where you started from, a bit of humour while you talk (once in a while)… everything will help you progress towards your being selected at the end of the process. People want to see how you can hold a conversation, and logically move ahead, without being boring or snobbish or arrogant. 

3. Your honesty:

Your honesty during the course of conversation becomes very critical. Do not try to “project” what you are not. People can see through most of the time and then you lose credibility.  You have to be YOURSELF. AUTHENTIC. HONEST. If you made a mistake, apologize and carry on. Do not try to cover it up, because its seen as being “over-smart” or “trying to pull a fast one” kind.  If you have made wrong choices in the past or changed too many jobs at the initial stage of your career, accept that if asked and logically explain the true reason behind such decisions. We all are human, we all make mistakes, so there’s no harm in accepting that you made wrong choices, maybe because of lack of maturity at that stage. The interviewer will appreciate your honest approach and trust me, that’s a critical point while being selected. Matured, honest answers by being yourself is the key.

4. Story Telling ability:

Storytelling ability doesn’t mean you are “cooking up stories”. What I mean is your ability to narrate your journey in a smooth storytelling way. Uninterrupted, with pauses, and poise maybe with a little humour at some places. You should be able to narrate like a small, beautiful story, which can be almost visualized by the interviewer.  If he visualizes, then he is walking with you and will believe and see things from your perspective. This is possible only when you don’t “cook up things” within your story. Be yourself, I repeat, because that’s very critical. 

5. Data / Market info / Numbers:

Do some homework when you go for an interview.  About the market, about the company, about the person who will interview you (provided you know beforehand), approx. business the company does per quarter or yearly, the sales strategy the company follows, and so on. Keep the data handy, and you can refer to the printout too if you have one. Please remember, no one expects you to know everything and you have every right to refer to data/your own findings, while you are being interviewed. That also will prove your seriousness towards the job you have applied for and you can showcase that you did prepare because you want to be the best amongst all. Your mental calculations, if at all, need to be good in a sales interview. It’s a basic in sales and unless you are decent in calculations, you can’t handle tough negotiations in a real-life situation. 

6. Your USP / Value that you will bring to the team:

You must identify and be aware of your strengths. You must be able to explain your USP, the uniqueness you have as an individual.  No one likes to hire very average or very ordinary sales guys. People want to hire smart sales guys and your uniqueness will define that. Also, you must be able to discuss how you will bring value to the table for the rest of the team which already exists. How will you bring something new, new knowledge or new behavior or new skills, new strategy, etc? This makes you valuable as a resource, not just as a candidate.  

7. Confidence:

Your confidence is critical again. Whatever you say or explain, be confident and stand firm on your point. You may believe in something which is very different, but if you really believe it, stick to it.  However, you must be careful that your beliefs are based on logic and reasoning, not just on your own opinion.  “I think I’m right” is not enough and will not have an impact. “I think I’m right because…” and then you give a few solid logic behind your belief will certainly make a difference. 

8. Values / Ethics / Integrity:

Your conversation should never project any kind of compromise on Values / Ethics / Integrity. This is an absolute no-no. Please remember that no one worth the salt will hire you, if he or she knows that, you will compromise on values and ethics or integrity, under pressure.  Even if you are the smartest, and most well behaved, you will not be hired if there is one iota of doubt on your value/ethics or integrity.  Tell them what have you learnt from your parents and why you believe in a particular value. It says a lot about your upbringing and all major corporates value that a lot. 

9. Ask questions: 

Once you get an opportunity, maybe towards the end of the interview or when given a chance, ask questions about the position, growth prospects, values that the organization believes in, and so on. Two or max 3 questions should be decent enough to take a decision at your end later on. It also shows that you are thinking “long term” association with the organization and not just the current position or the current compensation only.  

Last but not least, always remain alert within your mind but appear to be relaxed outside… because desperation kills your negotiation strength. Even if you don’t have a job for some time now, when you are appearing for the interview you should be calm and not show desperation for the job.  It back-fires in most cases. Remember that if you have done well in the interview, people will hire you for sure and a logical hike won’t be a constraint.  People want to hire smart, confident and matured resources, not just low-cost manpower. 

Stick to basics as explained above and you will crack it. Practice mock interviews with your mentor or individuals whom you think you can depend on. It helps.

Happy Selling. Even the interview is a situation where you sell your candidature. There is nothing beyond Sales.

Feel free to connect in case of any queries.

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