Hiring managers: look at how far you’ve come. 

At the start of 2020, you were likely interviewing job candidates in your local geography thinking you would have the luxuries of onboarding in the office and building trust in person. These basic luxuries quickly disappeared and all of a sudden you found yourself hiring sales reps virtually, across time zones and unique work spaces, and adjusting your people strategy overnight.

In a recent study, LinkedIn identified the 15 jobs in highest demand right now, and business development and sales professional jobs fall in the top five on the list (a 45% increase since 2019). That means many of you have been busy screening candidates, leaning into new wisdom, and developing the must-have qualities you want in a hybrid or remote rep.

Take Naureen Swanson, Director of Business Development at Palo Alto Networks, for example. She oversees a team of 50 BDRs across the U.S. and has hired 13 new remote team members in the last 90 days. In a recent conversation, she talked about the ways she continues to optimize her definition for what makes a successful remote rep. 

Since before the pandemic, Swanson has been basing her hiring decisions on three fundamental qualities: resilience, coachability, and curiosity. All three characteristics still guide her decision making today, but curiosity has taken on a whole new meaning and is the most critical trait a candidate must demonstrate to receive an offer.

“In today’s world, I’m looking for what I call, fearless curiosity,” she says. “Now more than ever, you need to hire people who can get in the trenches, ask hard questions, admit what they don’t know, and be able to learn on their own. It’s the self starters—the ones who can operate without fear—who make the greatest impact in a remote setting.”

When thinking about how work has changed, employers are asking their remote employees to understand the business (and their role) in a much more cerebral way. Today sales orgs sit on a wealth of customer and prospect data that can be accessed from anywhere—CRM to sales engagement to performance management—that has the potential to inform calls, processes, strategy, logo acquisition, and ultimately revenue. 

What fearless curiosity across the board could do for a sales team is spark new talk tracks that lead to more meetings or insights that lead to profitable action. Fearless curiosity challenges the status quo and makes people and businesses stand out in an incredibly competitive business climate.

Beyond the hiring aspect, this characteristic needs to be fostered and recognized within existing or legacy employees to inform who should be up for promotion. One way to evaluate this in your people is through community learning and knowledge-sharing programs.

According to Forbes, remote learning does not have to be expensive, tedious, or time-consuming. Utilize regular informal team meetings to discuss recent learnings or monthly and quarterly objectives to help encourage employees to use resources available and bolster a shared culture of development. 

“If I were to start my job over, I would more quickly have my team teaching each other,” says Kelly Berg, VP of Customers at Ambition. “As a leader, you see what each person is really good at like opening a call or setting the purpose and agenda or not getting ruffled. These are the traits you want to recognize, but also what you want everyone to learn and it doesn’t have to filter through the top. Push for peer-led best practices.”

These peer-led teaching moments will help employers see who is fearlessly curious and ready to pass along that spirit to even the newbies. The only way to build a strong org chart and better your most important business goals is to hire and inspire the right people. 

To deepen your knowledge on this topic, watch this on-demand webinar: Top behaviors of a hybrid revenue team.

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