I Interviewed Fifty Sales Leaders, Here are 3 Things They Look for When Hiring

As a Business Development Manager for a recruiting firm that specializes in placing commercial roles, I have had the privilege of talking with several impressive sales leaders. My favorite conversations circle around the ideas of success, purpose, and most of all, hiring top talent and what that truly means. 

So what does hiring top talent look like in sales and how can knowing this help you land the job of your dreams? After interviewing over fifty sales leaders, I’ve compiled some key takeaways.

3 Things a Sales Leader Looks For When Hiring

#1 Hunter Mentality

They need to be a true hunter. This is important for obvious reasons, more hunting means more revenue generation and more revenue generation means hitting the top numbers for yourself, your manager and the company! 

So how do you demonstrate your hunter mentality in an interview? That is something best shown over time by having great performance numbers, including stack rankings, % to quota, YOY growth, large conversions, etc. If you have them, it’s important to highlight those. True hunters are consistently in the top ranks of performance because they are constantly looking for new business and driving revenue. 

If you are newer to sales or do not have those tip-top numbers just yet, share examples from your experience that speak to your high level of determination and self-starting abilities.

#2 Curious Mind

Having a curious mind is something that stood out to me when thinking through the themes of hiring top talent. Why is this so important? Having a curious mind is one way of saying that you want to understand your customers, call points and products inside and out. If you can understand how your customers think and act, you will be able to better speak their language. This is sales 101 and is extremely important to demonstrate in an interview. 

A curious mind also indicates a growth mindset and hiring managers love to hire those who strive to continue growing rather than settling and getting complacent. 

How do you do this? Simply put, you must show that you have a genuine interest in learning as much as you can about the prospective company’s products, call points and customers by:

  • Generously preparing, researching, and showing off what you learned by working it into your conversations.
  • Simply stating your interest in learning even more! 

Note, it is very important to put a why behind this. Why is this interesting to you in particular?

#3 Good Attitude

A good attitude is something that everyone looks for when hiring top talent and it is not tied specifically to sales. If you are able to come into work each day with a smile on your face and a persona that says “I’m happy to be here”, you are someone that people like to be around in the workplace (or anywhere, in general). This is important because demonstrating a good attitude is something that aligns you with cultural fit. No one wants to foster a negative cultural environment within their teams and if you come off like a negative Ned/Nancy, then you will scream “bad apple”.

So how do you show off your great attitude in an interview? Well for one, have one! You’ve made it to the interview, smile and say hi to the people that you meet even if it is just in passing. Another way to show off your good attitude is to speak to it as one of your strengths and give examples.

It is also important to lead into everything you say from a positive point of view. Did your last job stink? Talk about the highlights. Hate your old boss? Don’t even mention it.

Of course, it is important to be yourself in an interview, but top talent is job-hopping more than ever before. Simply put, competition is fierce! 

Highlighting the ways that your values and strengths align with the overall mission of the interviewer and organization you are interviewing for is a sure way to stand out. 

By demonstrating your hunter mentality, a curious mind, and a good attitude, you will show that you align nicely and will get the job done, exceeding expectations along the way.  

Are you a sales leader or candidate? We’d love to hear your input! Let us know if you agree, and/or what other traits are most important to you in a new hire.