Doing prep work with a local account (a screw and bolt manufacturing company) to gather material for our training session, I asked the owner what he looked for in people applying for sales positions with his company.

“I ask them to tell me the latest three business books they’ve read and what they learned from them,” he said.

How does this help to qualify or disqualify an applicant?

The owner said that 70% of the applicants can’t name three books. In fact, many have told him that they don’t even read books.

“Once I hear that,” said the owner, “I show them the door. They’re wasting my time. It shows they have no curiosity, they think they have all the answers, they don’t take the initiative to learn on their own, and they don’t respect the art of sales. No one is so smart that they can stop learning.”

People aren’t looking for reasons to hire you. They’re looking for reasons to eliminate you. And they can often do it with one well-conceived question.

The nuts & bolts: You can never learn enough. Knowledge improves your relationships, business, decisions, and leadership.


Would You Hire Yourself?

I’ve been asked by many in sales management what are some key questions they should ask an applicant for a sales position? Here’s three I’m always interested in.

  1. Why do you want to be in sales? This is a seemingly innocent question and maybe that’s why it works. You’ll get some funny responses, some quizzical looks, and some stammering replies.
  2. Why do you want to sell our service or product? You will discover if they’re looking for a paycheck or if they have a passion for your product. Also, if they’ve done their homework.
  3. How do you plan on finding new customers? This is a deal killer.

Consider it done: The job doesn’t belong to those who can do it. It belongs to those who want to do it and who will do it.

The Cost of Clueless Salespeople

“Get a clue. Quit losing us money and business. Do your job.” Management thinks it, but do they practice it?

The sales manager of a 3-star hotel in Connecticut asked us to send him our ballroom requirements for our seminar and he would get back to us with the price. We told him we needed to make a decision that afternoon.

“No problem,” he said. Problem. He never got back to us.

After we called the next morning, his assistant told us the manager left for a two week vacation that morning. But off the cuff, she quoted us a price 45% less than we paid the previous year (we’re talking thousands of dollars in savings!).

We got a fantastic bargain. Because of the sales manager’s ineptness, the hotel left oodles of money on the table.

Upper management is probably wondering why their profit margins are so thin. Get a clue.

This I promise: The inability to keep your promises may not only cost you money, it could cost you your business or job.