The Carew team has been facing the same needs and issues of sales professionals and leaders in business everywhere. These issues include prospecting, selling price increases, and building relationships in today's socially distanced selling world. We believe we are still a long way from freely walking into a prospect's office or taking our customers to an appreciation event at a ballpark or resort. Through personal experience and working closely with our clients, we have realized that salespeople must work harder than ever to be top-tier sellers.
In our recent sales and leadership skill development workshops, we have also noticed a bit of frustration amongst sales leaders that their teams have stopped evolving and are not getting outside of their comfort zone to adapt to the changing sales landscape successfully. From early 2020 to now, everything changed, and things will continue to do so. Since we have seen a shift in "how" we sell, we believe there are essential skills that we, as hiring managers and leaders, should be consciously adding to our hiring models.
Here is a list of skills that you and your organization should consider when developing current team members and hiring new sales professionals:
- Video Proficiency and Virtual Camera Presence. Delivering effective sales presentations to customers in person is a must, and exceptional communication is an essential skill in any sales job. Do you have team members who understand how to appropriately replicate an in-person presentation experience online? Can they communicate virtually in a way that is productive and valuable? Carew recommends adding a video call into your interview process if you haven't already. It's still important to meet with a candidate (safely) in person, but getting a sense of their ability to share content online, show up properly on camera, and communicate on-screen will help bring versatility and, yes, sales to your team.
- Appropriate Understanding of Social Media Networking and Influencing. Not to be misunderstood here, I am certainly not saying you should be recruiting Instagram influencers. However, I do think an elite salesperson should be able to build a compelling brand online. Most hiring managers do a quick social media search for candidates to get a better feel of their personality and to see if there are any potential red flags. But are you looking to see if the candidate is utilizing their social media to build a professional brand? Networking in-person is almost impossible with trade shows and conferences still postponed or canceled. As we move into the next generation of selling (read: influencing), having new hires who are social media savvy could be a revenue-generating skill and a catalyst for others to take notice.
- Ability and Desire to Learn Continuously. A fantastic quote by Henry Ford reads: "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young." To stay successful, we must all continue to invest in our own learning. Stay in one place too long, and you risk getting overpowered by the pace of the world's changes. Look for candidates who have a passion for learning, or who can show you their desire to be a continuous learner. Consider asking what training they've attended recently and what they learned, or ask about their favorite business or sales books they've read. Additionally, make your sales team's learning and development a priority.
- Digital Organization Skills. I will admit this one is hard for me to write, as I could certainly up my game in this arena. But as sales organizations continue to game plan for flexible work environments and more employees permanently working from home, being able to store, retrieve, save, update, and organize digital communication and files is a must. Managers rely on data to help with forecasting and decision-making, so accurate and clean data is paramount.
Everything is changing: businesses, entire industries, customers, and - above all - salespeople. This means our hiring model should be changing as well. As you add or backfill positions on your teams (or when coaching and developing your current reps), consider these four skillsets. Look for candidates with video proficiency, an understanding of social media, the ability to be a continuous learner, and digital organization skills.