Companies that adopt Action Selling discover that the system dramatically improves the performance of sales rookies and veterans alike. It doesn’t matter if learners are new to sales or if they have spent 20 or 30 years repeating the same mistakes. It doesn’t matter how their personalities would be classified by any popular sales typologies: hunters, farmers, challengers, relationship builders, or what have you. It doesn’t matter if they are so-called 2.0 Salespeople, adept with web tools and social media. It doesn’t even matter if they are “born salespeople,” with a natural gift for the role, or not.

Regardless of any of that, when salespeople learn and achieve mastery in Action Selling, they get better at their jobs. A whole lot better. Here’s another way to say it: With Action Selling, you really can teach people how to sell.

That has implications for hiring. And they are downright revolutionary.

If you really can teach selling, why is sales experience your top hiring criterion?

Think about it. When you hire salespeople, you probably look first and foremost for experience in your industry, product knowledge, and a strong background in sales. After all, history repeats itself, right?

So how is your batting average? Not so great? “History repeats itself” isn’t a bad or dumb principle in this context, but it’s a long way from foolproof. And there is a rule of hiring that outweighs it: Hire for the qualities you can’t teach.

This means that if you are using Action Selling, product knowledge and years of experience may be getting too much weight in your hiring decisions. If I know for sure that I can teach people how to sell, and how to do it at an outstanding performance level, then I can give more weight to factors I can’t teach. For instance, I can surround myself with people who are smart, who communicate well, and who have a strong desire to succeed. If they already have some of the skills and experience I want, then that becomes a plus. But sales experience need no longer be my primary criterion.

One Action Selling client who arrived at this insight says that the No. 1 thing he now looks for in job candidates is the “desire to be great at something.” If that were my top hiring criterion, what kinds of questions might I ask job candidates? How about these…

Duane Sparks

About Duane Sparks

Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling. He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations. Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).