The last part of my vetting process for any new sales hire is seeing her in action. While she may have gotten high scores on curiosity, commitment, and tenacity, the hallmarks of a good salesperson, there is still the possibility that she may become a deer in headlights when she actually is presented with a customer she must sell to. This may sound silly, but more than once, I have believed a candidate was a good fit on all counts, and then watched her crash and burn when she had to pick up the phone to dial. I need to know that, if she is hired, she will be able to deliver.

The last part of our interview consists of handing over information about our products to the person I am vetting, explaining to her some approaches to getting people on the phone and asking good questions, and then handing over a list of potential customers to call. l give her a desk and a phone and the chance to ask any questions she may have, and then I walk away and let her find her way.

Best Salesperson: The right salesperson will take a minute to look carefully at the products, may come to me with a few questions, and then gets right to calling.  She will make good notes beside each person she calls, and she will stop to reconsider her approach if she finds that the prospects are not responding well to her. She will change up her language several times as she goes through the call list, and weed out phrases that don't get her the conversation she wants, and if she feels she is having no success, she will come to me and ask questions about what she might do differently, and then return to try again.  I will eventually stop her and ask her to tell me what she discovered in her calls.

Average Salesperson: The average salesperson will glance at the products, and begin calling quickly. If a prospect is unavailable, he will say he will call back, or leave a generic message (with no product information) and move on to the next call. If he has a hard time getting what he wants from a prospect he has dialed, he will not change his language on his own, but rather come tell me that people are not really responding well.  After I share a few pointers, he will return to his desk, make a few more attempts, and then come ask me how many calls I want him to make. This will end his interview, because it lets me know he is not really enjoying what he is doing and is not the right fit.

Terrible Salesperson: The worst salesperson will do one of two things: stare at the product information for a long time, and not start dialing until I come ask if he is ready or not even glance at the products and start dialing directly.  After he makes 5-7 calls, he will come hand me his list, usually devoid of any useful notes, and tell me he is done. And that he is. Done with this interview and done with this job opportunity.

Being a good salesperson is about feeling comfortable with and good about your products, it is about strategizing as you converse so you can communicate in a way that meets your customer's needs, and it is, most importantly, about continually reflecting on how you can best learn from, explain to,  and provide value to your customer.