The Secret Weapon to Hiring Salespeople and Client Facing Team Members

by Lauren Schneidewind on May 17, 2016

Body Language. Body Language Body Language. Salespeople and anyone that interacts with clients needs to be able to read social cues and act accordingly. As they say, most communication is non-verbal.

Let’s take a step back and build our foundation on hiring since hiring can be one of the most difficult jobs because there can be a great deal of ambiguity in it. However, Top Grading by Bradford Smart is the proven way to go. Now, that we have established our foundation utilizing Top Grading methodologies, I like to put my own personal touches on the interviews; especially when hiring Salespeople. I get to do a bit of role playing, which can lead to a more interesting time.

Role Play. Let’s get into how this role playing scenario will go, and hope it goes better than an epic game of Dungeons and Dragons. It is also worth noting before we get too far into this “game” we are all human beings here and this is not meant to be disrespectful or manipulative in anyway. Our goal is to simulate several scenarios the potential new team member will encounter on a daily/weekly basis. I try to simulate around 5 different scenarios, but go with your gut and use these as a starting point:

Ability to let someone else lead the conversation:

Are they able to follow in line or do they try to take the conversation over?
This is important because we want to follow the client's lead, if a client wants to run the conversation, we need to respectfully maintain objective, but let them remain leading the conversation.

Ability to take control of the conversation and lead it:

Does the Sales Person respond to the cues and act?
Do they take the Wheel?
We have to be able to go both ways here. We can’t only pull out our Blue Steel moves in one direction like Zoolander.

Awkward Moments

Do they put me at ease?
We are in the tech industry, so awkward is a relative term, but this isn’t a technical interview, it’s a Sales interview. We want someone that can take lemons and make lemonade. We want the client to feel at ease, which really helps when we reduce the awkward moments.


Do they respond when I am engaged or move on when I am pulling back?
Are they able to maintain my attention?
Can they do this while being genuine and honest?
We hit on a big point here with their ability to read the cues and keep the conversation going, but we also want to check for integrity here, no one likes a BS Sales person, so how genuine is the potential team member appearing? Any signs of deception should be closely watched. If you feel it in your gut, your head is probably not far behind.

The Silence

Are they comfortable with the Silence?
What do they do with it?
This one comes from a 40+ year sales veteran, who also happens to be my father. If he had told me this tip when I was a teenager, I might not have gotten myself in so much trouble. Anyway, being comfortable with the silence is a tough skill to master, but crucial in a Sales role, we do not want to mess the sale up by saying too much irrelevant information that might distract from what the goal is.

This list can be a starting point for your own interviews or to practice acing sales interviews. We all do things a bit differently, but with the right foundation we can hire those A-players more than 90% of the time, as Top Grading aims for.

How do you hire client-facing roles? Let’s start a conversation.

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