BTM Event Video: Handshake CRO Kiva Kolstein – What traits do you look for when hiring enterprise sales people?

Building the Sales Machine (BTM) Event Series: we post clips of the best questions that where answered during our live events, so you can take the best ideas back to your teams and companies for further discussion.


Eric from Sales Machine: 

Is there a trait that sounds out for you in particular, when you go out and hire a sales person?

Kiva Kolstein:
You’re looking for raw intelligence, intellectual capacity, past performance.  But the most important thing that differentiates successful sellers from non performers is grit.

There’s someone in here that has written extensively on grit, and I’ve written blog posts on grit.  There have been studies done at Penn about grit, Angela Duckworth wrote a book on grit. Grit is a really difficult characteristic or trait to identify in someone, but i think if you can, it’s the greatest predictor of future success.

Hiring is really hard.  Finding a great sales professional, especially a gritty enterprise sale professional is really hard.  The first thing that you run into is figuring out if this person was successful because they were selling gold in a gold rush.  Where they successful because the product that they were selling was easy to sell.

The second is figuring out whether this person is “fat and lazy”.  If you’ve seen Rocky 3, Rocky had come up from the bottom.  He is sitting with Micky, and Rocky just learned that Micky has been putting him up against lesser fighters to help him keep the title. Rocky turns to him and says “I’m a fraud, how could you do this to me.”  Micky replies “the worst thing that could happen to a fighter happened to you, you got civilized.”

The worst thing that could happen to an enterprise sales professional who’s had some success in their career, is to “get civilized”. We as sales leaders need to figure out if people are still gritty. Are they willing to roll up their sleeves and get into it?  Or are they ‘fat and lazy and civilized”.