The most underrated quality in any salesperson and how to tell if they have it before you hire them.

Dream with me for a second.


You wake up tomorrow, roll into the office, and your team is already there kicking ass – they’ve closed 2 deals and it’s not even 9:30am.


Pumped for what the day ahead of you holds you check your CRM numbers… every single person on your team is on track for the quarter. “FANTASTIC!” you think. “Now… how can I help these guys kick even more ass?”


You call a meeting to discuss. But instead of sitting through 30 minutes of drudgery where you have to spend the entire time teaching them how to sell, you spend most of your time listening because your entire team is jumping in with their feedback from buyers.


You and your team settle on a few key points to address with new collateral and you adjourn the meeting to start putting it together with Sales Enablement and Marketing.


And you laugh, because a year ago your life looked totally different.


Where you were once spinning your wheels worrying about managing people out and PIP’s, you’re now able to focus on things like big-picture strategy, blocking and tackling internally for your team, and solving for gaps in your messaging, product, or service.


And you know exactly what made the difference.


It wasn’t hiring more talented people, though that definitely helped.


It wasn’t because you suddenly learned outstanding sales leadership skills, though your abilities as a leader have improved.


Instead, it’s that you finally hired people that want to be there. That believe in what you are trying to achieve and are grinding every single day to make it a reality.


Sadly (and I hate to say this) I see a lot of hiring managers that never live this dream. And in my experience, it’s because they gloss over the one quality in candidates that makes it possible: culture fit (symbiosis in the form of shared beliefs).


Here’s why hiring for “culture fit” (symbiosis in the form of shared beliefs) is probably the most underrated quality in the salespeople you hire and how to see if the ones you’re interviewing are aligned with yours.


Why aligned beliefs are the secret to hiring all-star salespeople.


“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”


– Simon Sinek


I really can’t say it better than Simon Sinek did above. Hiring for shared beliefs is a massively powerful ally for finding talented salespeople who are going to help your business grow and thrive while sticking around when the going gets tough.


That’s because all the talent in the world won’t compensate for the engagement, drive, and grit that a shared belief in your mission will provide. The difference is stark and it’s why it’s the number one thing we look for when we match candidates with opportunities here at ATP.


The sales team at Inspire is a great example of what this looks like when it’s done well. They’re doing some amazing stuff with smart renewable energy and it’s powered by a common vision of changing the way the world uses power. The fact that each person on the team is an ‘Avenger’ explains it all…


But since they hired a team that believes in that vision to the core too, their business has 3x’d.


It’s not just Inspire’s story that supports this idea that belief is a critical quality to hire for – studies have shown this might be the single most important thing to consider, as it can readily be attributed to significant increases in job satisfaction, retention, and performance.


Make no mistake – I’m not suggesting this is the only quality you need look for. You have to make sure any salesperson you bring on board also has the skills and track record to back this vision mongering stuff up too.


However, this needs to be the tip of the spear.


How to tell if your sales candidates share your vision.


This is actually easier than you think. You just need to figure out what makes your candidates tick. That starts when you’re reviewing profiles of those you might want to interview and is developed further by asking the right questions in the interview itself.


Here are six questions that will help you get to the bottom of what motivates your candidates and determine whether they share a common vision with your organization:


  1. What gets you up in the morning?
  2. Why sales? What keeps you in this profession?
  3. What’s important to you in your next role?
  4. Why us? Why do you want to work here?
  5. Looking in the rearview mirror, what are you most proud of and why?
  6. Tell me about a time when you worked with/for an organization where you felt you were not a strong culture fit. Why was it a bad fit?


As you can see, it’s pretty easy to start digging in further once you’ve got answers to these and I recommend that you do so. Get to the bottom of it – why your company, why now, and why sales?


Note: you need to have your company’s beliefs, culture, and “why” fleshed out first before you can properly evaluate candidates. This article will help you do that.


Final thoughts.


Don’t underestimate the power of shared beliefs. This is the foundation that ties it all together. Get to the bottom of this with each candidate during your hiring process and incorporate it into your hiring scorecard so you hit on it in every interview. The results you’ll see in your culture, team, and revenue will be astounding!


This doesn’t excuse the need to hire for talent and experience. That’s still important. But believe me, beliefs can fill in a lot of gaps in abilities thanks to the extra grit and perseverance it can provide.


I’d rather have a middle-of-the-pack salesperson with a ton of potential and an insatiable drive to help the company succeed than an all-star who’s only there for the paycheck. Who do you think is going to stick around when things get tough?


I want to hear from those who have used “culture fit” or shared beliefs to build their teams… how has this affected you and your business? Leave a comment below!


-Amy Volas