b'FINAL THOUGHTSDEMYSTIFYING THE SISYPHEANTASK OF HIRING SALESPEOPLEIt starts with mitigating ones own biases and focusing on selecting people with the right wiring for sales. BY PETER SMITHI f your company mission is to climbent or it isnt. It is self-triggered and mostLook for clear evidence that the candidate a tree, which would you rather do:evident in environments that tap into thathas a competitive spirit. What have they hire a squirrel or train a horse? persons competitive spirit.done in school, previous places of employ-So wrote Mac Anderson in his book YouThere are no pep talks needed, and noment, hobbies, etc., to suggest they are Cant Send a Duck to Eagle School, and there- external incentives required beyond a fairdriven and competitive?in was born the title of my first book, Hiringand transparent compensation system, aAsk probing questions to determine if Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions tomodicum of recognition for a job well done,the candidate has empathy. How do they Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent. and the elimination of any shitty managerstalk about previous employers, colleagues, Andersons simple-yet-profound querywho might demotivate that person. You cantteachers, etc.? Is the eye contact good? Are struck a chord as I recognized in it the seem- teach drive, so hire it. they really listening or jumping all over your ingly Sisyphean task of hiring salespeople forThe second element is empathy. If a sales- questions with self-flattery? Does the candi-jewelry stores. person deems customers a necessary evil (be- date ask you any qualifying questions, or ask Many of us are imbued with a confi- lieve me, it happens), theyll never be good in ayou to restate a question for clarity? dence, perhaps even a certainty, that we aresales position. They have to believe customersLook for evidence that the candidate is equipped to hire great salespeople.are better for meeting them and trust thatresilient. What setbacks do they reference However, my research for Hiring Squirrelsengaging with their customers and inspiringand how did they handle them? What is their (5 years and 700 salespeople) showed that 58them to make buying decisions is a good thing.body language communicating as they answer percent of salespeople should not be workingThe third nontrainable element is resilience.your questions about professional failures? in sales. They were, to paraphrase Anderson,No one can be successful in sales if they dontHave they learned from those failures? Or are horses trying to do squirrels work.have sufficient reserves of resilience. They willthey visibly shaken and upset as they recall So, why do we get it so wrong? And can webe crushed every time a customer says no.failures, perhaps blaming other people? improve our hiring process?When people with low resilience areI leave you with this note of cautionthere For starters, we need to recognize why werejected, the effect in their brain is similar tois no substantiated evidence to support the are failing so epically. Lest you think yourebeing physically assaulted. Tell me again howidea that all great salespeople are extroverts. special, I should note that 72 percent of HRthey are going to continue to inflict that psy- The sum of extroverts and introverts is about professionals in a survey indicated they werechological damage on themselves by invitingone-third of the population. The remaining two-losing the war on talent. If people who dorejection again and again?thirds are what psychologists call ambiverts. this for a living fail so spectacularly, whatInterviewing to identify those traits is anAmbiverts are people who exhibit traits hope is there for the rest of us? important first step toward mitigating yourof both extroverts and introverts, a perfect As it turns out, there is a lot of hope,own biases. And dont kid yourself about hav- combination for the task of engaging with cus-provided we look for the right stuff in theing biases and bringing them into interviews.tomers in a sales environment where they are right places, interview differently, structurallyAccording to psychologist Alexander Todorov,expected to listen but ultimately inspire buying mitigate our biases, and park our egos.a professor at the University of Chicagosbehavior with appropriate assertiveness. The right wiring is critical when hiringBooth School of Business, we form biases with- Happy hiring! salespeople. Thats the stuff that makes themin one-tenth of a second of meeting someone. successful, no matter what their backgroundOur biases make us, in effect, putty in thePETER SMITH is an industry or level of experience is. hands of an attractive person, a well-spokenconsultant, speaker, and sales And the good news? About 25 percent ofcandidate, or someone with jewelry salestrainer. He is the author of three the population have the essential ingredientsexperience.books, Hiring Squirrels, Sell to be successful in sales. In short, the ingre- Structured interviews are critical to theSomething, and The Sales dients are the very things we cannot trainimportant work of hiring. Questions shouldMinute and a columnist for (think horses climbing trees) such as drive,be prepared in advance (no scribbles in theNational Jeweler. He can be empathy, and resilience.margins of resumes) with a clear focus on thereached at TheRetailSmiths@gmail.com or Drive is an innate trait; its either pres- essential traits for sales.617-308-1580.78 STATE OF THE MAJORS 2024'