Why waste time and resources hiring sales people who can’t or won’t grow on the job and end up taking up valuable space on your sales team?

Unfortunately, that happens far too often. It’s true that some reps are naturals and likely will succeed in almost all situations, but those self-driven top performers are more the exception than the rule. Most reps require sales coaching to attain top skills and performance — to thrive in your sales culture — and the time to determine a rep’s coachability is in the interview with the candidate, not way down the road.

The interview is the opportunity to uncover personality traits and other attributes that will identify candidates who possess the right willingness to learn and the commitment to make time to improve their skills. A pleasing personality and appearance of being a good listener doesn’t ensure a rep is receptive to coaching or capable of recognizing when to turn to a sales manager for guidance. The only true measure of coachability in a sales rep is this: 30-60 days after the coaching, have the changes been made and sustained?

So how do you assess coachability during the interview process? Start by asking job candidates:

  • To talk about a recent example of feedback they received and what they did with that advice.
  • To share their personal goals and see if “continued improvement” is part of the mix.
  • To describe a challenge they undertook in their current or former job and what they learned from it.

Their responses will help you determine if they likely will apply the feedback they receive from coaching and whether they are open to new ways of doing things. You will learn whether they are willing to try something they currently aren’t doing but that works for others.

“Coachable” reps show an openness to feedback and ideas from others for continued improvement, and the motivation to make the necessary changes to actually apply the coaching. If the interview leaves you lacking confidence in a candidate’s desire or capability to meet these criteria, it’s unlikely your coaching efforts will produce the desired results.

Once you believe you have the right “coachable” candidates, it’s up to you to communicate your company’s expectations that their willingness to be coached is just as critical for long-term success in your company as their sales skills. The will to improve skill – that’s what you want in your next new-hire!