Why Your Sales Reps Need Integrity

BY C. Lee Smith
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As a hiring sales manager, do you believe your reps need integrity? Merriam-​Webster defines this quality as “trustworthiness and incorruptibility to a degree that one is incapable of being false to a trust, responsibility, or pledge.” One of our most successful business leaders, Warren Buffett, makes hiring decisions based on integrity, says Marcel Schwantes. Here’s how you can test the level of integrity in the candidates who apply for your open positoin.

Why Your Sales Reps Need Integrity

Sales managers face enormous pressure to keep the funnel full of leads and help their reps make their numbers. During the recruiting process, they may rush to hire a rep. They figure any warm body in a position increases their department’s chances of success. This rush to hire sometimes results in onboarding reps who have done a great job of selling themselves and qualifications they don’t have.

The sales profession already suffers from a bad reputation. In our American State of Credibility survey, no other profession scored worse than sales when it came to a lack of credibility. Sales professionals have given consumers plenty of reason not to trust them. If you hire an individual who lacks integrity and credibility, your clients won't trust them, either.

Testing for Integrity

You can determine a candidate’s integrity before you get to the interview stage. After you select the resumes that best match the qualifications you’re seeking in your next sales professional, ask the candidates to take a sales skills assessment. If your top candidate claims they are an expert at sales discovery, but the results of the assessment show otherwise, you’ll need to decide if you want to continue the process. 

Weakness in a key sales skill might not be a ‘showstopper’ if the candidate shows they have other strengths. So the assessment you use should measure for tendencies that go beyond basic sales skills. For example, if the candidate’s assessment results show they are highly coachable, you will be able to develop their sales discovery skill.

Assessing behavioral tendencies is also key in determining whether  your candidates have integrity. You need to know if they’re going to come into your organization like a wrecking ball and demoralize the rest of your reps as they seek to become the chief rainmaker. It’s equally important to know if they might be tempted to cut corners or make false promises about your solution in order to close the deal.

Ask the Right Questions

We all have our favorite go-​to interview questions. We believe these questions will help to reveal a few key aspects about a candidate. Warren Buffett uses a set of interview questions designed to get at a candidate’s integrity. Here are two great questions from his set that you may find especially useful when you are conducting interviews:

  • When was the last time you 'broke the rules'? What was the situation and what did you do?”
  • Describe a situation where you saw an employee or co-​worker do something you thought was inappropriate. What did you do?”

The candidate’s answers to these questions will give you a better idea of their moral compass and give you insight into whether they have the right stuff to be your next sales rep.