There is no real mystery to identifying a person who would be a great salesperson. It doesn’t require close examination of a track record or a personality test. Brian Tracy, a savvy leadership and management consultant, professes the SWAN Formula. When you’re pondering a new hire, try grading the person on these criteria:
S = Smart. Does your prospect demonstrate a reasonable amount of intelligence? Does he/she have the capacity to identify opportunities, process information, and communicate effectively?
W = Works hard. Does this potential recruit have a track record of long hours? Can you sense the level of commitment to seeing the job through to closure versus calling it a day at 5 p.m.?
A = Ambition. To be successful, a salesperson must be a self-starter. While you can (and should) provide ongoing motivation, you need an individual with the ambition it takes to work independently, without the steady nudge of a manager.
N = Nice. You don’t need someone who dishes out a plate of freshly baked cookies (not that this is a BAD thing!) but you should seek professionals who are friendly, moral, and ethical. Their actions reflect you and your business. Be sure you won’t be tainted by unseemly behaviors and actions.
And don’t be swayed by experience. This can simply translate to longevity rather than quality. Much like tenure does not ensure a quality teacher, experience is nothing without demonstrated results.
If you find someone who scores high on the SWAN meter, make an offer. This is a person who possesses the attitude of a successful salesperson. And remember this advice: Hire for attitude, not for skill. Skills can be learned. A bad attitude will create an impossible situation. Look for the person who can embrace new knowledge and skills; avoid the one who can’t/won’t.