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Tips to Hiring Sales People From an Industry Expert

It’s a common question, are salespeople born or made? According to one automotive VP It’s a little of both. But one is more important than the other.

"I think best sales people are born with innate skills that are going to lead them to success."

Matt Weinberg is the Vice President of Customer Experience at Drive Motors. Before working for Drive Motors Weinberg spent many years in dealerships, and consulting for dealerships. During that time he hired and interviewed many sales people.

"When interviewing for salespeople I look for the five C’s: Candidness, confidence, competitiveness, communication and charisma."

He says the five C’s are characteristics all sales people must have. Some of them are learnable traits like communication. But the more important ones like confidence and charisma are innate.

"You have it or you don’t. Charisma is important because... people buy cars from people they like. If I have charisma I'm going to connect with more people and will get more sales."

Outside of the five C’s Weinberg says a good sales person will pass a test he throws into the interview to throw people off.

"What I will do later in the interview after building some rapport, I would say 'Hey Sherri you know, I enjoyed our conversation, you’re great but I’m just not seeing you as a superstar sales person.' Then I'll pause and shut up and see how they respond."

Weinberg goes on to say If a person gives up and says something like 'Okay. Thanks for the opportunity," He knows for sure that person won’t survive the sales floor. The point of this challenge is to test rejection skills.

"What I‘m looking for when I do this test is to see how will they respond to rejection and see how confident are they. You’re putting them in a tough spot. But that's the purpose. How will they respond?" Weinberg said. "If they ask questions like 'Why?' or 'What makes you think I’m not great?' Then I get huge smile because this person will be successful and didn’t crumble under rejection or questioning."

How do you hire for sales? What’s your secret question or traits you look for?

Mel Gifis

Sorry to throw a monkey wrench into your "tips" but I respectively disagree with your statement that confidence and charisma are innate. When I was in the business of selling used cars I hired people with "no" sales experience. I instructed them through an intensive training program and upon completion they not only developed confidence, their personality changed because they were able to communicate more effectively. You don't have to take my word for it, according to Dr. Mark Van Vugt (PH.D.) in a blog posted in Psychology Today a study conducted outlines 10 steps that are teachable to become more charismatic: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/naturally-selected/201205/can-charisma-be-taught. I believe given the proper tools, environment, and time, everyone can be taught to sell. 

Amanda Gordon

My problem with hiring currently isn't charisma, it's enticing them with the proper pay plan. Thoughts and ideas welcome.

Derrick Woolfson

@Amanda, agreed. I find the strategy a bit bizarre, and very distracting, which I think is what he wanted? But frankly, this sounds like a bad interview. Instead, he should allow the interviewee to describe their goals, and what it is they can offer the team. At which point, (as the interviewer) you should think of questions that align with your current business goals. To then gauge their responses. You can do all of that without the 5 C's. Just my thoughts. 

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