In a recent post, we discussed asking younger sales candidates to turn back the clock and look at accomplishments early in their lives (read it here). Let’s zero in on that even more:
When you’re seeking a true hunter – someone who will find and develop new business – ask them to reach back as well and discuss some of their tougher early jobs.
What we love to see here is a situation where they were purely cold calling – literally knocking on doors, even if it was back when they were still in school.
Tough, front-line sales jobs like these require fearlessness and a thick skin. Like a relief pitcher in baseball, they need to forget their last unsuccessful outing and knock on each new door with a fresh, positive outlook.
These jobs are becoming less common, but make it a point to look for them in your candidates’ past. Likely matches are positions with Comcast cable sales; home improvement canvassing for windows, siding or roofing projects; or on the B-to-B side, maybe even copier sales.
If you never had a position like that yourself, consider the logistics: you’re dropped off in a neighborhood in the morning, often alone, to face rejection all day long. It’s hot, or cold, or raining. And your reward is straight commission, or something close to it. You get one shot at each answered door: a single visit and a single pitch.
It’s not easy and it’s not fun. Someone who hangs in there for a full summer, or even a year or more, shows tremendous grit and tolerance for the inevitable pain that comes with sales.
And when your business needs a hunter, that’s someone who’s worth a good, hard look.