As a sales manager looking to build a team, you always try to define the major characteristics that you need in a candidate to have them be successful with your team. Typically speaking, if someone were to ask you what the #1 quality you would look for in a sales professional you would most likely say one of the following: confident, positive, ambitious, hungry, smart, articulate, well educated, passionate, money motivated, a go-getter mentality, etc, etc…
I, on the other hand, believe that these are all essential and well needed characteristics for any career especially in this marketplace.
I believe that the #1 quality to look for in a sales professional is someone who can deal with change. I describe that as someone who has the ability to put the blinders on and power through what ever happens. In this marketplace it is essential to be able to cope with restructuring, new compensation plans, territories, teams, leaders, and possibly new business models.
As we come up on the 18th month of the "Great Recession," all the previous characteristics that were desired are considered standard. Without the ability to deal with change you will become extinct and a victim of capitalism as we know it. I saw an advertisement in the Wall St. Journal last month. It was a full page picture of Charles Darwin with the phrase "Meet the New Boss." This is truly a "survival of the fittest" economy.
The training or the sales classes you have put your team through are now old and obsolete. The typical numbers for success no longer apply. For example, if a year ago your metrics said that your sales representatives needed to make 100 dials to get 10 appointments to close 1 deal, then you should expect that now they have to double or triple the number of calls to find success. As you are talking to prospective members of your team, you should consider how well they can adapt to a market that is constantly changing. Consider what you are doing different now than you did a year ago. Can this person adapt to a constantly changing world? How will they adapt when you ask them to change their prospecting methods? Every sales professional still needs to be confident, articulate, ambitious, etc, but the real #1 characteristic you should be looking for is a candidates ability to change. This economy has paved a new landscape, therefore we need a new kind of sales professional.