Are You Hiring for Hustle?

BY C. Lee Smith
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If you’re having trouble hiring the kind of salespeople you want, those who excel and show hustle, you might need to change your strategy. Michael Houlihan, cofounder of Barefoot Wine, recently shared his hiring process during a recent Manage Smarter podcast.

In a small business, good employees, and good sales reps, are the ones who know how to hustle. “If you give them five or six things, they can put them in priority,” Houlihan says. You know what I mean. Some employees work to rule. When the least little thing out of the ordinary happens, they panic. They might stop working and wait for your clarification. That brings productivity way down.

Some of these workflow problems could be your fault. You need to empower your employees with enough confidence to understand that they sometimes need to make decisions without your input. 

Interview Process

You can also avoid some of these problems by hiring the right kind of employees. During the interview process, ask your top candidates to take the kind of assessments like those offered by SalesFuel Coach. Those results will help you understand the candidate’s basic tendencies in the workplace. You’ll learn how well they’ll fit into your organization’s culture.

But don’t stop there. If you anticipate having your new hire represent your company at conferences and business luncheons, take the person out for meal. Observe their table manners. Pay attention to how they treat the wait staff. Every encounter your new sales rep has in their professional lives is an opportunity to represent your company. You don’t want their boorish behavior to reflect poorly on you and to ultimately be the cause that a possible client refuses to do business with you.

Listening Skills

Small businesses also thrive on their employees’ ability to listen. It’s one thing to check with references on a candidate’s listening skills. And you can also use some standardized testing to get at these skills. But, if you want to be completely sure that a good candidate is taking your company and potential employment with you seriously, Houlihan recommends putting them through one more exercise.

At his company, during the final interview, they talk one-​on-​one with the candidates and describe some of their challenges and competitors. They also discuss what they expect the candidate to do to handle these challenges and competitors. Then, they ask the candidate to write up what they told them by 5:00 the next afternoon. 

This exercise reveals two important details about the candidate. You’ll know how well they listen, and you know how well they perform under pressure.

We’re operating in a competitive job market. That doesn’t mean you should rush to hire the first candidate who walks through the door. Take your time to bring the right person on board. You’ll save yourself time and money by making sure the candidate everyone loves truly is a good fit for your organization.