3 Simple Questions to secure your next Michael Jordan of Sales

Sales is the most important role in and as the face of the organization.  It often is the first introduction to the personality of a company and sets the image and expectations in the minds of the consumer.  

Given the importance, why is so little effort placed on enhancing the perception of the function, especially as it ties to the talent acquisition phase?  It is really not hard to find the right person to fill these roles at all levels and have the highest possible success metrics if you probe for these 3 traits.

Sales Person


3 simple probes.

Discover not only how these 3 simple probes will increase your hiring success rate 10 fold, but how to effectively screen for these people in advance of the interview.

First, this is NEVER Sales……… great salespeople are truly marketers at the core.  The first issue is the title for the role sets a negative tone.  So think and act like a marketer and come up with a new name and sell it differently and it will be seen that way.  

The greatest and most effective Marketers sell the sizzle.  You need to overcome the existing negative perceptions of Sales so that you can secure the best quality candidate because:

Steak on BBQ

  1. Sales is not viewed as sexy
  2. Sales is not a role people entering undergraduate business school place anywhere on their list, or even consider when they graduate
  3. Sales is usually a fallback, if nothing else is available
  4. Many in the role have come to view their roles as order takers

This is not…… nor should it be how it is!

You need to make the position sound like that of aspiring careers:

  • Lawyers
  • Engineers
  • Doctors.  

University students have the perception that these 3 programs and other PROFESSIONS lead straight to great jobs (some do not and in the case of some engineers put you in places you would never want to be), so you have a positioning task, to level the playing field.  Sell the exciting part of the job front and center.  Don’t turn them off before they even read on.

Those transitioning from one company to another and are already in the role would like to get out for similar reasons.  This must become an aspirational profession.  The grass must look greener on the other side, because you will make it so!

So Stop using the name “Sales” which has no positive career perceptions and go on the talent hunt by selling your company.  What are the exciting things that you are doing and have done?


In advertising your role, the sizzle is the intrigue and excitement of the position.  It is the fact that it is a challenging and high paying career that should be aspired to.  So make it that way by asking:

  • Do you like challenges?
  • Do you enjoy playing games and winning?
  • Do you enjoy travel?

Picture of travel

  • Who said there was no such thing as a free lunch
  • Do you like to set your own hours
  • Would you like to make more money than your friends and parents

Don’t say that these benefits cannot happen in your company, because they must if you are to secure extraordinary talent.  You can deliver all of these because:

  • You know a Sales professional must be competitive.  They cannot shy away from challenges.
    • You need to find out up front where their heads are at when they are losing.  What are they going to do next, by probing with a series of questions
  • They have to want to win, which means they will dig for more information to help them win
    • If they are being beaten badly (skunked in Cribbage, holding the Queen of Spades in Hearts or no Bauers in Euchre), what is their strategy?
  • Every single sales role involves travel.  It implies freedom.  Get them dreaming
  • Salespeople have budgets to entertain
    • going to events with Clients, taking them out for coffee needs to be encouraged
  • Every creative and successful person is thinking about solutions outside of normal hours.  Truly great salespeople need to have the perception of freedom to set their own hours
    • In reality, you will get a far greater return from them providing the perceived freedom as measured from 30,000′ by their performance.  Stay out of micromanaging
  • Management’s biggest shortsightedness is trying to control bonuses and not paying the effective and productive people extraordinarily well
    • Sales Professionals should earn beyond their wildest dreams. Do not attempt to control this…. you will find the greats deliver exponential ROI when the sky is the limitKey picture


  1. How will their conversation go with a customer who absolutely must have delivery in 5 days and you cannot deliver?  What will your steps/communication be inside the organization?
  2. The test for tenacity and drive will come from giving them a book of 120 pages (not reviewed on the internet) and ask them to find an answer logged somewhere in the middle.  Give them 30 minutes to provide it.  Also, ask several other questions about what they discovered in the exercise
  3. If they successfully navigate these 2 questions, you can now invest more of your companies time by having them interview an employee or 2, (one senior and one from the IT or other secluded, internal department)  for 15-30 minutes and then ask them questions about what they learned


  1. Will they lie, even a teeny, tiny little white one?  If so terminate here.  Loyalty is what your company relies on.  Upsetting the customer by not communicating with your customers is a slippery slope.  And little white lies grow.  Such a trait will destroy your business.  You need to trust them when they are out in the field
  2. Sales is really marketing, which means digging for information to get the sale.  If they quit or are poor readers, have too short an attention span, then pass and move on to the next candidate
  3. Sales is all about what the other person is and wants.  If they cannot interact with people at all ends of the company and find out what makes them tick, what buttons can be pushed for success, then pass.


Michael Jordan was not an immediate superstar.  But….. he had drive, the most important trait of a professional, responsible for growing your company.  This trait will be unearthed with the aforementioned questions.

You need to spot the characteristics of these people, especially given the amount of time and effort you are going to put into them and the knowledge and experience they are going to secure to allow them to succeed on your nickel.  These 3 questions will filter out the fakes!

This role needs to care and be empathetic.  These questions will get you this person.


The Jordans of the world are compensated very well……. because they deliver.  They are superstars who bring measurable results.  Championships!  If compensation is structured properly on both the sale and profit elements of the equation (even going so far as penalizing the sales portion of the bonus for poor profitability on a sale) your team members will be worth every bit of bonus they are paid.  

Celebrate these bonuses throughout the company.  This is not kids T-ball here where everyone is a winner.  This is the real competitive world where we want only winners and those who support them.  

Business is a game and money is how we keep score.  If this new talent in your company shoots the lights out, let everyone know.  

We love to know who got the Grand Slam, got a Triple Double and a Hole in One.

Celebrate it sincerely and do so in person, and go so far as to do so with a handwritten note, delivered in person.  This sets a positive tone that meetings with senior managers need not be negative.

Everyone knew what Michael Jordan made and nobody held that against him.  Your new purveyor of exponential growth should be no different.

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