Not too long ago, I had a chance to interview a very strong job candidate for a marketing role from a top five undergraduate program. She had all the credentials - strong academics, great work experience, and a "get-stuff-done" type of mindset. On paper, she was perfect.
Uncertain, I threw her this curveball:
She fell right into my trap. She immediately replied by how much of a distaste she had for sales and withdrew her candidacy for the role.
Why did I ask this question for a marketing role?
Well, because sales is a very strong indicator of someone's social intelligence. Anybody can be well-liked and get along with others when nothing is at stake, but sales requires one to explain the value, virtues, and benefits of a product, service, or project when someone may not be on your side.
Hence, unless you desire to become a corporate robot, sales is essential to your success and will serve as the backbone of becoming a great business leader.
Not sure? Ask Mark Cuban who has said that sales is the one secret to success in any field.
Without any respect for the sales profession, as well as lacking the understanding of the importance of sales, I could not imagine her managing others, communicating persuasively, or leading projects with multiple people. You need sales skills to perform all of the above effectively.
In a turn of events, after I told her the importance of why I had asked that question, she turned around and explained the reasoning behind why she despised sales and explained it was a knee-jerk reaction.
Why do we have this negative perception of sales?
The first thing many people think of when it comes to sales is the used-car-salesman or boiler room stockbroker stereotypes. To tell you the truth, those types of salesmen are slowly but surely dying out.
In years past, those types of sales folks who depended on cheap sales tricks were successful because information was easily hoarded. When customers do not have access to the information you do, you can get away with a little bit of sleaze. Nowadays, with the advent of the internet, customers are very well-informed and many sales tricks that used to work are no longer effective.
In the past 20 years, products have become much more complex, forcing sales professionals to become much more technical and sophisticated in the sales process in order to become successful.
Yet we still think of the sales profession in a negative light.
In a world where tasks that solely require the attention to detail and no human interaction are either being outsourced or becoming automated by A.I, sales, a great measuring stick for social intelligence, is becoming much more valuable than ever.
Here are the reasons why a job candidate who enjoys sales has more upside than those who do not:
1. They tend to be more resilient.
Sales requires persistence and an ability to take constant rejection. Hence, someone who enjoys sales will take constructive criticism better which is a crucial trait for one's potential to be realized.
2. They are likely to be stronger communicators.
Sales requires you to explain the benefits of a product from someone else's perspective. This forces you to become a much more effective listener and ultimately a better communicator.
3. They tend to know how to motivate others.
Because sales require you to understand the value of a product from someone else's shoes, those who enjoy sales, naturally look for ways to make others tick, which is a hallmark of strong leadership.
4. They likely have a better sense of how to push others, just enough.
Sales requires you to stay aggressive. But if you are too pushy, you will lose the deal. On the flip side, if you are not aggressive enough or confident enough to ask, you will never hit your quota.
Employees who are good at sales naturally can become great managers because they know how to challenge others the right amount to help them reach their potential.
After reading the benefits of someone who enjoys sales, wouldn't you agree that if everyone in your organization had a little bit of salesmanship in them, your company would do better as a whole?
Go ahead, on your next interview, ask that one simple question.
You'd be pleasantly surprised what you will find out.