When recruiting great salespeople, hire character first.  And, do you know what character trait is more important than all the others?  Honesty.  Yes, honesty. The number one character trait to recruit for is honesty followed by hard work and personal responsibility. 

Honesty is nonnegotiable and must be present for you, the coach, to turn your back and leave things unattended.  It is difficult and just about impossible to coach this trait.  Recruit for it.

The degree of honesty impacts reporting accuracy.  A salesperson who embraces the facts, despite the brutality of them, willingly faces the truth.  This person wants to know their progress numbers toward personal goal achievement.  They do not want to kid themselves or their coaches or managers.  They must know where they are relative to where they need to be and they do not mind if others know.

Honesty brings clarity into a salesperson’s goals and progress toward them.  It keeps what’s important … important.  It increases the emotional attachment to motivating circumstances.  With reality brightly shining on skills, habits, goal achievement progress, and past behaviors, the ease of future adjustments increase.  A person grows stronger – gets better.

Honest words are sometimes painful, but said kindly and with concern, they free a person for greater improvement.  Honest discussions pave the way for sales training and a more peaceful future.

A very wise man once said, “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.”

Obviously, honesty impacts customer satisfaction during a face-to-face sales call.  Does the customer discover that a salesperson behaves with honest intent?  Is the sale made with truthful evidence and testimony?  Will the salesperson protect a company’s branded image by steering away from fraud or deceit?  These are crucial questions and the impact of handling a customer’s trust will have lasting impressions upon corporate profit.

Honesty sewn within a person’s makeup also makes a statement during normal day-to-day coworker interactions.  An honest salesperson shows up for work on time.  Service personnel can count on the promises that the salesperson makes.

With honor present, salespeople trust each other.  Management can count on sincerity being present in exchanges in communication.  Everyone can operate in a well lit operation of straightforward talk.  And, of course, all money is accounted for and in the right places.

One question that’s interesting to ask in a structured interview is, “ Which of these traits is the most important one for the type of sales we do?  Persistence, Self-Discipline, Honesty, or Hard Worth Ethic?  (Award 5 points only if the candidate says that Honesty is most important.  Award 0 points for any other answer.)

How would you respond?

Honesty, hard work ethic, and personal responsibility.  These are important and related character traits.  Recruit for them first and personality traits (goal-orientation, social confidence, etc.) last.  The culture you build by recruiting with this focus will make all the difference.  Now, go and get better.  You can.  Lance.

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