Why Is It Important to Hire for Sales Acumen?

May 28, 2019

Sales Acumen

Sales acumen is a term you may have heard before, but if you weren’t hiring for a sales role chances are you’ve probably dismissed it. Sales acumen is an understanding of prospects and a sense of how to approach a sale. Just as a manager needs to approach each individual based on their unique motivators, a good sales person approaches each prospect based on their core motivators related to the problem(s) they are trying to solve. The ability to do that is called sales acumen.

Non-Sales Roles That Benefit from Sales Acumen

While sales acumen is an essential quality to look for when hiring for a sales or development role, almost every position can benefit from having this skill. Following are the top three non-sales roles that will benefit from sales acumen:

  1. Hiring Managers: Sales acumen is a great ability to have as a hiring manager. In today's competitive candidate market, it’s important to be able to sell the value of your organization to top qualified candidates. The ability to pitch to a candidate by matching their unique motivators with your company values will give you a competitive advantage.
  2. Front Line Managers: These types of management roles spend a lot of time managing up. They will likely find themselves in a position where they need to sell concepts to upper management such as giving a particular employee a raise, detailing the ROI on non-budgeted resources that will help their team be successful, or pushing a process improvement idea. Front line managers are in the trenches of the business and can bring a lot of value to the executive team. Without sales acumen, they may struggle to articulate their ideas.
  3. Customer Service: This is perhaps one of the most important non-sales roles that benefits from sales acumen. These employees interact with your customers the most. They make a large impact on your brand. Sales acumen skills will help this team better understand the customer, uncover their problems, and find solutions for them. Sales acumen in this capacity is also helpful for cross selling other products when the right opportunity arises. Although customer service employees are not in a conventional revenue generating role, they directly affect your bottom line.

How to Hire for Sales Acumen

Once you find a candidate who has the proper skills and qualifications for the job role, you should assess for sales acumen next. The most objective way to do this is to combine the use of an objective assessment with behavioral interview questions designed to reveal sales acumen.

Here are a few sample questions:

  1. Tell me about a situation where you had to promote a product or service to a customer or an idea or process improvement to upper management. What was the situation and the outcome?
  2. Everyone faces a situation where they must promote their ability or accomplishments to others. Give me an example of when you had to promote one of your abilities or accomplishments. Please explain the situation, the person you were dealing with, and the outcome.
  3. Tell me about a time where you have had to make a verbal presentation to a group of your peers or superiors. How did you handle this situation? (Look for evidence of confidence or a lack of confidence in tackling the situation.)

ZERORISK HR is a leader in pre-employment assessment and employee development. The best way to hire for sales acumen is to first audit your culture by using an objective tool. The ZERORISK Culture Audit allows you to evaluate the presence of sales acumen within your team or department and is conducted using an unbiased assessment. Get started with the Culture Audit for only $495. Learn More.

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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