This statement is going to sound blunt, but gathering information is always more important than giving information in a selling process.  This truth may sound counterintuitive to the stereotypical sales process.  However, it is crucial to understand this approach.

The stereotypical thought is that good talkers make good salespeople.  I hear this conventional wisdom every week when dealing with sourcing sales candidates.  It is a well-established belief and it is completely wrong.  Strong salespeople are more closely related to adroit investigators -they ask good questions, pursue the right topics, and drill down on ambiguous responses.

The ability to understand this approach is to first realize who is running a qualifying conversation.  Is it the person talking or the person asking the questions who is controlling the conversation?  If you answered the person asking the questions then you are correct.

The person asking the questions is controlling the topics, choosing the depth of the topic discussion, and gathering the information needed to determine if they have a real prospect or not.  The only way to accomplish these tasks is to allow the potential prospect to share information.  Now granted, prospects are not always eager to share all information and, dare I say it, some prospects (all?) don’t always tell the truth.  The prospects use stalls, objections, misdirection, commissions, etc. to refrain from telling the salesperson all of the details needed to qualify the opportunity.  The prospects’ approach is the reason you must find skilled salespeople to handle qualifying potentially deceptive prospects.

The conventional wisdom in sales hiring is to find “good talkers.”  I cannot count how many times I have been told that a referred sales candidate would do well in a sales role because they are loquacious in speech.  A good conversationalist maybe, a word salad bloviator no.  The first trait to locate in a sales candidate is their questioning ability tied to their listening ability.  You can see these traits in action if you spend 30 min. on a phone screen with them.  You will see their conversational ability in person and, more importantly, you will observe how they question and control a conversation.

You can follow up your findings regarding a potentially strong sales candidate with an in-depth assessment.  The assessment will tell you how they prefer to communicate, what drives their decision-making and what natural abilities they have for accurate listening.  This approach, in concert with an effective phone screen, will help you find stronger, skilled salespeople.

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