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About This Episode
Being successful in sales requires hard work.
It requires strengthening your weaknesses, pushing through tasks you don’t like doing, and sticking things out.
We call that grit.
And there’s probably no better person to talk about grit than Bill Green. As CRO at PROLIFIQ, Bill leads go-to-market, sales, and enablement. He came on the latest episode of The Sales Engagement podcast to talk about grit — what is it, how sales leaders can hire for it, and why it will make you successful.
Growing Up Gritty
Bill’s parents were married young. Then they had children. They both worked to make ends meet.
Money was tight. And there was a bit of fear surrounding the idea of money.
But everyone knew there was one way to eliminate that fear: hard work.
Bill learned early on that hard work could generate positive outcomes for himself and his family.
He learned to be gritty — to persevere, to stick things out, and to push through the hard things to find the reward at the end.
Grit is still a trait he values today, and it’s one of the characteristics he believes makes a successful salesperson.
So, what is grit? And how can you hire for it?
There’s a lot of different forms of grit.
What we’re talking about here is the grit of work.
Think of it this way. Michael Jordan had some obvious strengths. But during practice, he didn’t spend all of his time working on those strengths. He was working on his weaknesses.
And he did so until he could execute those weaknesses with an exceptional ability.
Working on your weaknesses is never fun. But he did it anyway.
That’s grit. Sticking it out, even when it’s hard.
Hiring for Grit:
People like Michael typically have grit, not because they enjoy hard work on its own, but because they love the result of what their work generates.
That reward could be a paycheck, a championship, a new record — it’s different for everyone.
But gritty people are willing to overcome challenges to reach that reward.
There are two ways Bill and his team try to assess people for this type of grit.
#1: Look at their track record.
A lot of resumes or LinkedIn profiles talk about the result. But they don’t talk about how that result came to be. You don’t know if thirty people helped achieve that result or if that individual happened to walk into a lucky territory.
So, to assess grit, Bill dives into the how. He asks questions like:
- What did you do to get that result?
- How did you prepare?
- What did the proposal look like?
- How many hours would you pursue this?
The people that can explain the how in great detail are probably the ones with grit.
#2: Make them work in the interview process.
During the final stages of the interview process, Bill and his team give candidates a bit of work to do.
Since most candidates aren’t experts on the product yet, they don’t ask them to do a role play. Instead, they ask them to give a presentation and bring themselves to life.
They ask the candidate to talk about grit, what it means, and to share some examples. They ask: Why sales? What is it about sales that you love? What is it that you don’t like doing but you do anyways?
The presentation probably requires only an hour worth of prep.
But it gives a pretty good indication of grit.
#3: Ask a simple question.
The number one question Bill likes to ask candidates is:
How did you prepare for today? Walk me through it.
As candidates are answering, you get a really good sense of whether they’re just making it up on the fly or whether they’re meticulous and actually put the work in.
Grit, the Great Equalizer:
Maybe you feel like there’s a lot holding you back.
You have the biggest quota, a funny voice, or think you’re not the brightest — whatever you think it is that’s standing in the way of you becoming a top seller, grit is the equalizer.
Grit, consistent applied, with the right process, will always outperform.
It’s a guarantee.
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