Phone 716.479.7719

The following is from the book The Science of Selling, by David Hoffeld.

“A survey of 100 global companies found their mis-hire rate for salespeople was an astounding 80%.”

If they can’t get it right how the heck are you going to? Well we will look to science and provide you some new facts that will help you in the future.

You see those companies still hold on to long held beliefs about sales people. So let’s begin by smashing these long held belief that are just not true and providing you with a new scientifically based  process for hiring Top Performing  sales people (A Players) .

1.  We will be evaluating sales people on the following criteria:

    • Skills
    • Knowledge
    • Behaviors
    • Competencies
    • Character

2.   Here are the 5 essential qualities of Top Performing sales people (proven by scientific research):

    • They are Intrinsically Motivated (belief buster – money is not the main motivator)
    • They are focused on the Perception of Others (belief buster – not outgoing, ego driven)
    • Possess Integrity (honest, trustworthy, dependable and honorable)
    • They have a Growth Mindset (believe to they can and want to always improve their skills and competency)
    • Are skilled in interpersonal Communications

So let’s take a look at each and questions we can use to uncover these qualities in interviews.

Intrinsically Motivated

Science shows that Top Salespeople are intrinsically motivated. Sales is not just something they do for the money. It’s personal and something they want to excel at. It ties in to other qualities mentioned above and for all A Players – they want to learn , they want to get better because they want to be in this profession and they want to succeed. Questions to uncover this quality. Remember always let the interviewee know that at some point in the process you will be asking them to make contact with old bosses and set up call for you. (Truth serum) Sales people are good at selling themselves.

    • Why are you in sales?
    • What do you enjoy most about selling? What do you enjoy least?
    • How would you describe someone who is successful at selling?
    • In the past, when you have earned a sale, what did you do? How did you respond?
    • In your last sales position where did you rank in comparison to your colleagues?
    • Outside of money how did you stay motivated to sell?
    • In your previous position what activities did you engage in that made time fly so that you lost track of time?

We are looking for a strong desire to be in this profession and have an intense hunger to be the best and be great at selling.

Focused on the Perception of Others

Science shows that Top Performing salespeople are good at understanding buyer’s perceptions. When sales people cannot understand customer’s perspectives they cannot positively influence them.

How do you know if a salesperson is not attuned to her buyers?

Is identifying the perspectives (sitting in their seat) of your potential customers important to you? Why? How do you do this? Can you give me a real life examples of when you have done this?

How do you acquire an understanding of what would motivate a buyer to purchase from you?

How do you prepare for a sales call? How do you gather sales intelligence about prospects prior to a conversation?

Is it important to observe nonverbal communications? What do you look for?

Can you share a time when your potential customer’s perspective shifted and how did you adapt to it?

You are looking for answers and examples that show they are aware of others perspective and attuned to changes and that they adapted not charged ahead with their own ideas and process. Do they strive to understand each buyer or just treat everyone the same?

Possess Integrity

This is the most overlooked but extremely important quality of top sales people. This is hard to identify I people but far easier to see if it is absence. Peter Drucker said he always asked himself this question when interviewing someone. “Would I want one of my kids working for and learning from this person”.

Remember that you are going to have any candidates that make it through the interviews to set up call with old bosses who will have permission to tell you anything. This will also be a good question for the old boss about this candidate.

Embrace a Growth Mindset

This is the belief that they can improve their sales ability through their efforts (the want to learn and improve and know that sales skills can be improved they are not innate). People who don’t have a Growth Mindset feel you have the ability, personality and skills to sell or you don’t. They like other C players don’t believe and will not try to grow as a person and learn and practice to get better. This is a quality not only in sales but in all positions that make A Players – the have some skill, but they want to get better and they are engaged with the team and the company.

Is selling a skill you are born with or can it be developed? Why do you believe that?

Outside training you have received from employers what have you done to improve your sales ability?

What have you done?

If a new salesperson came to you and ask what they could do to become a good salesperson what you tell them? Why do you believe that?

What type of sales skills do you think you are weak in? What have you done to improve them?

Have you ever had a large task or project that forced you to develop a new skill to accomplish it? What process did you use to develop that skill?

Glean from their answers if they believe you can learn how to be a great salesperson or you either have the personality and skills or you don’t. Also listen to their how they have developed skills and learned and practiced things to improve their skills and competencies.

Every sales person desires to improve sales, make more money and better serve their customers. However, those with growth mindsets are usually the only ones who seek out new knowledge and skills to make their goals a reality.

Skilled in Interpersonal Communication

Selling is based on the communication of ideas, the way salespeople communicate matters a lot.

    • First Impressions: Do they give off a positive first impression? Why or why not?
    • Verbal communications: What do their words say about them? Do they clearly communicate ideas in a compelling way?
    • Non-verbal communications: What do their non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions, eye gaze, rate of speech, voice inflections reveal about them and the thoughts they are espousing?


Have them return and deliver a 5 minute “presentation” on anything – old product, service, hobby  etc. Be thinking as they present would I want this person representing me? If they don’t do well and blame on pressure – that they do better with customers – don’t fall for it. As in sales training role plays – anyone who uses that excuse is really showing you what their true colors are. What they do you for you now is what they do in the field.

Truth Serum

If they pass all these tests, then have them set  up one or two calls with old bosses. Yes, they call them up and tell them you will be calling and they can tell you anything. Average sales people will fade away and you will never hear from them (self screening -because they can’t do that, they don’t have old bosses who will give them a good recommendation). Those Top Performers will get back to you – then make those calls and use it to get final feedback on the person.