In this digital era, you may want your sales reps to be a little unique and creative in their networking tendencies. Good sales hiring assessments can help you find candidates who think unconventionally. And an unconventional approach is exactly what they need to set themselves and your company apart from the competition. In the old days, business relationships often started on the golf course. With fewer business executives taking time to hit the links now, reps have to find different ways to connect.
The Need for Unconventional Networking
Certainly, reps can take the long approach and build a relationship through social media. When they see that a decision-maker posts about business problems they’re experiencing, reps can reach out. After establishing a relationship, they can offer their solutions. Some prospects might find that strategy creepy.
Another solution is to encourage your reps to attend events that represent shared interests with a prospect. Maybe there’s an alumni event, like a hockey game, for the university that the rep and prospect both attended. If reps are trying to get the name of decision-makers in an organization, they could also check out the charitable events the organization supports. Attending those events might be the best way to get acquainted with the right people and secure the names your reps need.
How Sales Hiring Assessments Measure Unconventional Thinking
How do you know if the candidate interviewing with you will be an unconventional thinker and come up with innovative ways to network? And will that person succeed in your organization and with the kind of prospects you serve? Good sales hiring assessments tools can help you answer these questions. Many assessment tools will measure a candidate’s sales skills. For example, a platform like SalesFuel HIRE will present a specific situation a rep might encounter during negotiating, list three different answers, and ask the candidate to make the best selection.
The candidate’s answer will give you part of the picture you need when considering their capacity to think outside of the box. To get at those details, you also need to assess their soft skills. An unconventional rep can deliver results when they prove to be creative and curious in their approach with prospects. Business owners don’t have much time or patience for sales reps to run through a canned presentation just so they can get to the payoff at the end.
Business decision-makers told us, in our Selling to SMBs survey, that reps should “know what I need, know my business and my competitors, and bring hard data.” Making a good impression on a busy prospect requires your reps to use curiosity and creativity. The more they can find out about the prospect, and possibly the prospect’s competition, the better.
How Unconventional Thinkers Can Help Your Team Win
Some candidates will naturally possess more creativity and curiosity and you can uncover these characteristics when you use a comprehensive assessment. Unfortunately, many sales managers don’t understand how important these soft skills can be. In our Voice of the Sales Manager survey, only 48% of managers with five or more direct reports said being creative is a characteristic needed in the profession. The score for curiosity was even lower, coming in at 25%.
If you need more unconventional thinkers on your team, start screening for characteristics like curiosity and creativity. When you find people who score high in these areas, you’ll see that they also tend to value individualism and won’t be as concerned with fitting in. They won’t worry if their approach to solving a problem seems a little unusual.
Similarly, you should understand a candidate’s ranking on the scale that measures regulation as a behavioral motivator. Some folks need a rigid structure to be in place before they can work. Other team members will score high on the opposite end of the scale. They want flexibility in their professional live. When you find this kind of candidate using sales aptitude assessments, take the next step and put them through a creative exercise.
Keep in mind that we can’t all be Stu Heinecke. Featured in SellingPower magazine, Heinecke described scoring meeting after meeting with prospects. How? As a cartoonist, he was hoping to get assignments from large publishers. His direct mail pitch included a personalized cartoon featuring the decision-maker. That strategy got people’s attention.
The Importance of Innovation
Heinecke demonstrated fantastic creativity and innovation. As Mark Donnolo says, “Innovation wins deals. Innovation can be the differentiating factor in a competitive sales situation, and continued innovation can help retain customers.”
58% of sales managers say there is little differentiation between their products and what their competitors sell. This reality means reps must find the unique and innovative ways that their products can solve the customer’s pain. Typically, the discovery process will give them their first clues. Some sales candidates have a natural ability to assess a buyer and a buyer’s situation. These abilities are what you should be looking for. The result of a good sales hiring assessment will tell which candidates stand out in these areas.
If you want to be sure your highly creative candidate won’t stray too far in their pitch to a prospect, ask them how they’d handle a specific situation. For example, find out what they’ve done in the past when a prospect didn’t understand their proposal. While creativity is important, it’s key for the prospect to understanding the proposal. Otherwise the prospect won’t move forward.
Diamonds in the rough can make a huge impact on your team’s attitude and performance. With the right sales aptitude tests, you can also be sure your potential new hire understands the limits.