The Number One Skill to Look for When Hiring | Sales Strategies

When it comes to hiring, the number one skill or behavior to look for is teachability/coachability.

As a manager, you want people who don’t think they know it all. You want people who are willing to learn, change, and grow as the market, your product, and customers demand it.

As a seller, you need to show your managers that you are willing to learn. Because if you show up to an interview acting and behaving like you know it all, you will likely not get the job. 

The Questions You Can Ask as a Manager in an Interview to Determine if Someone Is Teachable

  • “What have you read?”
  • “What workshops have you attended?”
  • “What websites do you frequently visit?”
  • “What sales tips or processes have you implemented in the last year?”

You are looking for the fact that they have done something—whether it’s, indeed, a corporate workshop, reading on their own, or following a particular speaker or influencer. If they say nothing, that is the first red flag.

Are They Implementing?

The next thing we will want to know is if they are implementing. For example, if you asked them what they implemented from that book, workshop, or speaker, and they mentioned that they already knew it and it was just a refresher—another red flag. You will want to know if they are genuinely learning, developing new skills, and implementing. 

In asking the aforementioned questions, you will be able to determine if they are coachable. If they are not coachable, I would put on the brakes. It’s incredibly difficult to have someone on your team that is entrenched in the position in which they sell today because the market is going to change.


5 responses to “The Number One Skill to Look for When Hiring | Sales Strategies

  1. […] 5 minutes debriefing. Or even better, you can sit down with a manager, trusted colleague, or top performer in your organization and debrief with […]

  2. Truer words have never been spoken, but if I may, I would like to posit an idea, if high achieving workers and learners are your goal.

    Try focusing on highly intelligent immigrants – preferably from third world nations, whom if you are astute and a good judge of character and learn how to pick the one’s with “the right stuff”, you will find are among the most eager to learn and be taught about their new homeland and its culture so that once they assimilate and do understand, they can move and groove, shake and bake and hopefully someday go where the elite meet to eat – “Puttin on the Ritz”!

    It is my immense good fortune to have a number of such young men in their late 20’s, early 30’s (the age when I find most young men finally begin to wake up and smell the reality roses and embrace responsibility if ever, they do).

    Almost all of my guys, my boys, are from West Africa – The Gambia, Benin, Burkina Faso. I have been mentoring them all for about five years; my business partner is from The Gambia – and honest to God Mandingo and I am working the others in slowly.

    Now, here’s why I feel young men and women – especially from third world countries – make such eager learners and conscientious workers. Each of my guys, is extremely intelligent, well grounded with religious beliefs and a solid moral code – something not easy to find in the average America boy or girl – irrespective of race, color or creed. In America what we have is an excess of plenty that spoils kids and makes their biggest goals in life – it seems – to figure out how to get mommy and daddy to buy me the latest iPhone and then pay for my college education – yes I know that sounds cynical, but it’s not.

    They would also be – if they stayed in their homelands – be the leaders, the cream of the crop, but sadly given Africa is the basket case basically it is – and likely, sadly, always will be – for the likes of them to stay there is to basically imprison their potential, stripped them of any chance to fully realize and be the best they can be.

    So, at a relatively young age – of around 25 or younger – they made major life changing decisions – adult decisions – to leave everyone and everything they knew, were comfortable with and the people they loved behind and trade it to become Strangers in a Strange Land.

    Unfortunately, what they also bring with them is a high familiarity with the customs and conventions of their cultures which, don’t travel well to the United States – which moves about 100 times faster than African culture. So, what happens is these bests of the best do their best based on the best understanding of how to deal with people they learned from before. However, there is a big problem, because they are out of sync with the reality of how we handle ourselves in America – re business, social interactions etc.

    For instance, in Africa – Bangladesh and Indian too – it is considered disrespectful for a young man to look an older man in the eyes; they also don’t shake hands – and if they do it is limply, weakly.

    So – if I didn’t know that and I was looking for someone with Personality Plus – who had the presence of mind to walk up to me, look me in the eyes, smile warmly, extend his hand and shake my hand firmly and say, “Hi, Mr. Jones, my name is Ali, and it such a great pleasure to meet you; Erik has told me so much about you!” and thereby immediately establishing the mood and tenor of the moment; well, if a shy retiring guy – acting under the parameters of his culture – came to me and I didn’t know that – then I would probably reject him.

    So, my point is, if you understand that learning about the culture and habit patterns of their new country is Job 1 for this quality of individual and you deliberately focus on helping them learn; making sure they are learning to speak English (or French or whatever) at the highest levels, teaching them how to sell and understand the underpinnings of it.

    What you will find is that you are going to gaining both an exceptional mentoring relationship, have someone who will give you some of the highest loyalty you have ever had from employees and probably stick by you for a long time because, after all, where are they going to another person who cares about them like you do? SMS

    Copyright 2020 by Erik Skye

  3. Knowing a lot can be OK. YOU bring up very good points about asking questions to determine if the prospective hire is willing to accept teaching new things and processes and willing to be coached. Very important for the organization

  4. […] is one of the simplest things a seller can learn to do, but it is the most difficult for them to execute in the sales process […]

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