A meme resurfaced recently on social media called, “10 Things That Require Zero Talent.” When I saw it I immediately thought that the person who put it together might have read my first book, “Who Stopped the Sale?” Since then, I’ve thought about how simple and to the point this meme is, especially when considered from a sales perspective. I only wish I knew who put it together so I could give them credit.
If you didn’t catch the post, here is the list from the meme:
1. Being on Time
2. Work Ethic
4. Body Language
8. Be Coachable
9. Doing Extra
10. Being Prepared
What do you think would happen if you honestly focused on and practiced these simple principles every day? I am certain that sales professionals will gain greater success if they do.
These are the exact traits managers hope to see in a potential new hire. And, if they don’t look for these 10 characteristics during the interview process, they most likely will hire the wrong person.
Let’s take a deeper look at how managers can use this list when hiring.
Being on Time — This alone is a deal breaker. There is no real excuse for being late. If a job candidate is late for an interview, a manager should wonder if they will show up to work or appointments on time after being hired. How can you rely on someone who can’t show up?
Work Ethic — Delve into a candidate’s work history. Find out when they had their first job; starting early indicates a good work ethic. Find out what they did to prepare for the interview. The more preparation they put in before coming to the interview, the better their work ethic may be. You can also tell a lot about a candidate’s work ethic by checking Linkedin, Facebook and other social media outlets. Do you get a positive or negative impression from their posts? Are they disparaging their employer and complaining about their job, or are they keeping it professional?
Effort — An often-overlooked key to success is effort. Salespeople who put in extraordinary effort, who are willing to work harder than expected to achieve results, are simply more successful. Ask candidates what they do when faced with a situation where someone has told them “no.” What do they do when faced with seemingly unsurmountable challenges? Are they clear on their professional and personal goals and are they driven to achieving them?
Body Language — Proper body language can build confidence in coworkers and customers. Take notice whether or not the candidate maintains eye contact; speaks in a low, steady voice; uses their hands for emphasis, not from nerves; smiles and offers a strong handshake. Even if they are nervous at first, do they become more relaxed and confident as the interview goes on?
Energy — Pay attention to the person’s energy level. Are they positive or do they appear and act tired or bored? Do they have the energy to do the job, to be a team player and to be present for the customers? How a person contributes to their company is as important as what they contribute. A sales professional may have experience, knowledge, skill and a history of success; however, without positive energy their skills cannot be fully realized.
Passion — What are they passionate about at work and outside the work environment? Are they sports enthusiasts? What kind of passion would they have for the company and for your customers? Sales professionals who are passionate about their jobs are committed to consistently achieving higher levels of performance. Yet, according to Deloitte University Press, “Up to 87.7 percent of America’s workforce … doesn’t have passion for their work. Less than 12.3 percent of America’s workforce possesses the attributes of worker passion.” Ask how the candidate handled tough situations. Look for a desire for continual learning, improvement and challenge. Is the candidate willing to try new ideas and take risks that benefit an organization?
Coachable — This, in my opinion, is the most important of the10 items. If a person is coachable, you can take their positive attributes and polish them into something even better. Does the candidate seem to have an answer for everything? Do they correct you or talk over you? Do they interrupt? If you offer a suggestion, do they listen or shrug it off? These are signs that an individual may not be coachable. If they aren’t coachable, what you see is what you get.
Doing Extra — Do they go the extra mile? What time did they arrive for the interview? How early did they get here? What beyond their assigned job responsibilities has the candidate done in their previous roles? Do they serve on committees? Do they lead teams? Are they involved in employee programs? Do they go the extra mile for customers and help solve problems? Or do they come in, work their hours and leave? Sales professionals who do extra are committed to being their best, to their customers and to their employers.
Being Prepared — Preparation is essential to performing at the top of your game. Successful preparation requires the ability to pay attention, identify and solve problems. During the interview, notice whether or not the candidates listens carefully. Do they take accountability for the successes and challenges in their careers? Can they think quickly and solve problems? Do they come prepared to ask informed questions?
Attitude — It’s all about attitude. All of the first nine traits are influenced by attitude. If a candidate scores low in any of the other nine traits, chances are they don’t have a positive attitude and may not be the best addition to a team. During the interview, do they stay positive or do they shift to a negative attitude?
As you consider these items, also consider how this candidate will impact your customers, your team and your needs in an employee. Then ask yourself, what are you doing to ensure the people you hire bring these traits and improve your team?
As I said, being coachable is the most important trait in this list. After a candidate is hired, they need to be willing to continuously improve and learn. As a manager, you can’t simply hire someone who has all these traits and expect them to succeed and grow automatically. Their success depends on you managing them. You need to set goals with them, observe, coach, train, educate and mentor them continually. Even the best candidate will fail if a manager neglects responsibility for grooming and improving the talent and skills employees bring to the job. If you hire the ideal candidate and then, in three months it’s not working out, look at yourself. Employees are responsible for bringing their time and talent to work. You’re responsible for making sure these don’t go to waste.