Psssst… hire the quiet one…

9 Feb

So which candidate is will you give the job offer?  The quiet one that answered all your questions very well, or that incredibly outgoing candidate that could barely stay seated?  Leaning towards the firecracker?  After all, who doesn’t prefer the smiley super enthusiastic candidate?  Besides everyone else on the interviewing team is going to have the same preference.  Right?

Don’t click that back button yet, let’s think this through.  Enthusiasm, defined by has an interesting definition for this word.  Enthusiasm is “a source or cause of great excitement or interest.”  So when someone shows a great deal of enthusiasm are they showing you a personality trait or are they revealing a very strong interest in the subject?  I’m all for great excitement as long as that emotion transfers to the prospect.  And just to throw a damper on this prospect… how long will that enthusiasm hold up under pressure?

However, if you want to be happy with this decision twelve months from now, you need to find out more about this enthusiasm, and I would beg you to consider “will” first.  Okay then, what is will?  One definition is “purpose or determination, often hearty or stubborn determination; willfulness: to have the will to succeed.”  Where does this will come from?  Strong will is a product of desire, incentive, security and confidence.  Interestingly security and confidence only come about once someone learns how to do a task well, and then repeats the act often enough for it to become second nature.

Just so you don’t think this is a semantics discussion let’s put the comparison to practical use.  Let’s say that you have decided that the four most important skills for this sales job are prospecting, presenting, probing and closing.

The enthusiastic candidate tells you he loves prospecting.  He can’t wait to learn more about your lead generation programs.  Your “composed” candidate tells you about her four favorite sources for generating target lists.  She tells you about her system of emails, sourcing for networking introductions, and finally about how she sets aside a full day each week to make old fashioned appointment setting phone calls.

Your enthusiastic candidate can’t wait to tell you how he likes assembling just the right team to make client presentations.  For weeks ahead of time he works internally to get the team excited about the prospect and the role they will each take in the meeting.  The other candidate makes it clear she has goals of making no less than three presentations each week to new prospects.  She works from a preset presentation format because she wants to ensure that she is able to focus on finding out current practices.  She reveals that if the prospect does less than half of the talking then she failed.

Your firecracker tells you how he likes finding out as much as possible about his prospects.  He can’t wait to learn of prospect needs so he can reveal how their company can satisfy those needs.  The other candidate tells you that she feels the questions she asks, and the timing of those questions are her secrets to success.  She talks about open ended questions, qualifying probes, directional probes, and using closed probes to confirm needs and trial close.

Finally, the more enthusiastic candidate tells you his closing ratio is the best in his current company.  He tells you he NEVER gives up, that his pipeline is filled with prospects who simply haven’t said yes yet!  The more reserved candidate tells you how she ensures she has enlisted a coach within the prospect company.  She tells you how important it is to ensure that her coach is highly credible with the decision maker.  Finally she tells you that if the final presentation with the decision maker has not occurred with four months she seeks out a new coach.

So it’s decision time.  Which candidate get’s the job?  High enthusiasm or high will?

Okay, I will make two admissions. 

First I have never been accused of being over exciteable.

Second, if it were my decision…I would keep interviewing until I found a very high skill, high will sales person with a good level of enthusiasm.  However, if these were my only two candidates, I would choose high will every time!

3 Responses to “Psssst… hire the quiet one…”

  1. thejobcoach February 17, 2009 at 7:34 am #

    Perhaps you will enjoy this anecdote about whom to hire for sales: A long long time ago in a land that no longer exists, I was in conversation with a successful VP sales. I opined that he should fire a certain sales executive because he cheated on his wife every time he was out of town. My friend said, “Not only will I not fire him, I wish I had four more just like him.” Aghast, I exclaimed, “Why on earth would you want someone who doesn’t honor his word on your team.” He replied, “Because he is a risk taker and will do anything to get what he wants. That makes for a good bottom-line focused sales guy.” I still don’t accept his answer, but I am also waiting for my cat to bark.
    Rita Ashley,Job Search Coach
    My clients get hired.

    • Scott H. February 24, 2009 at 10:38 am #

      What you have described in short order can be read in great detail in “SPIN Selling” by Neil Rackham.

      • gregdeming February 24, 2009 at 1:54 pm #

        Thank you Scott. I have read that book and liked it but don’t think anything in this discussion is related. I’ll look for the book to double check. As I recall SPIN stands for Situation, problem, investigation (?), and need. My formal training came from courses from Wilson Learning.

        Besides the point of this post is not about sales skills, its about “Will’ vs. enthusiasm.

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