Rethinking Sales Talent Acquisition with Brisa Renteria

In the dynamic world of sales, the approach to hiring is undergoing a crucial transformation. On the Predictable Revenue podcast, host Collin Stewart discusses the emerging trends in sales recruitment with Brisa Renteria, CEO of Improved Growth

They dive into how data-driven strategies and a focus on intrinsic qualities reshape how sales talent is identified and nurtured.

The Intersection of Data and Human Insight in Sales Hiring

Brisa highlights a significant shift in sales hiring methodologies. She advocates for a data-driven approach, moving away from traditional methods primarily focusing on a candidate’s personality and self-presentation. 

Data provides objective, unbiased insights into a candidate’s capabilities, offering a more accurate picture than typically revealed in interviews. This evolution in hiring emphasizes data over intuition in identifying the right sales talent. Renteria also emphasizes using specialized assessment tools to evaluate candidates’ sales-specific skills and motivations. 

Tools like the Objective Management Tool provide predictive insights, enhancing the efficiency and reliability of the hiring process and allowing managers to base decisions on concrete data rather than just intuition.

Decoding Sales DNA and Its Impact on Performance

Understanding the ‘Sales DNA’ concept is pivotal in sales recruitment and development. Sales DNA encompasses the inherent strengths and weaknesses influencing a salesperson’s performance. 

Brisa highlights that traditional training and personality assessments might not fully capture these intrinsic qualities. She underscores the importance of recognizing and developing aspects like needing approval, emotional involvement, comfort with discussing money, and handling rejection. These components play a significant role in enhancing a salesperson’s adaptability and effectiveness in various scenarios.

Uncovering the Essence of Sales DNA

Sales DNA includes factors such as the need for approval, which can significantly impact a salesperson’s approach to closing deals. For instance, a high need for approval might deter a salesperson from being assertive in negotiations, affecting their ability to close effectively. Renteria emphasizes the necessity of understanding and nurturing Sales DNA alongside developing sales skills.

Evolving Sales Interview Techniques and the Importance of Structure in Hiring

Brisa advocates for evolving interview techniques in sales. Moving beyond the limiting yes/no question format, she suggests adopting open-ended and situational questions that provide deeper insights into a candidate’s potential.

Additionally, establishing a structured hiring process is essential, especially for those inexperienced in sales recruitment. A systematic approach helps effectively sift through candidates, ensuring they align with the job requirements and the company’s sales culture.

Crafting an Interview Process That Reveals True Capabilities

An effective sales hiring process should emphasize candidates’ actions and reactions rather than solely relying on verbal responses. Brisa Renteria advocates for a practical approach, observing candidates in real-world scenarios like handling objections and closing techniques. This strategy offers a more accurate assessment of their potential performance in real sales situations. 

The way questions are framed and posed during interviews is crucial, as it can elicit revealing responses about the candidates’ ability to handle pressure and challenging scenarios, providing deeper insights into their sales acumen.

Aligning Candidate Experience with Business Requirements and the Role of Specific Assessments

Ensuring a candidate’s experience aligns with your organization’s unique sales role requirements is vital. For example, someone proficient in selling high-priced, one-call-close products to CEOs could be well-suited for a similar business model. Renteria emphasizes avoiding generic assessments in favor of tools specifically designed for sales roles. 

Traditional personality or behavioral assessments often fall short in predicting sales success. In contrast, sales-specific assessments offer a more in-depth evaluation of a candidate’s ‘sales DNA,’ including intrinsic qualities and motivations.

Embracing Diversity and the Intersection of Skills and Sales DNA

Diversity within a sales team brings dynamic perspectives and effectiveness, crucial for understanding and catering to a varied customer base. Renteria advises seeking diverse profiles to enhance the team’s collective capabilities. 

Additionally, aligning a salesperson’s skills and ‘sales DNA’ with your business’s needs is critical. A candidate might have been successful in other sales environments, but a mismatch with your business’s requirements could lead to underperformance. 

Matching candidates’ skills and intrinsic qualities with the specific demands of the role can significantly enhance the chances of successful, long-term hires in sales.

Prioritizing Sales Motion Experience Over Industry Experience

Brisa Renteria introduces a fresh perspective in sales hiring by prioritizing sales motion experience over industry experience. 

She emphasizes that a salesperson’s experiences, such as the value of the products they’ve sold, the types of work they’ve undertaken, and their client interactions, are more indicative of their abilities than just industry tenure. This approach challenges the traditional focus on industry experience, highlighting the need for adaptability and versatility in sales roles.

Re-evaluating the Weight of Long Sales Experience

Renteria addresses the misconception that extensive sales experience automatically equates to effectiveness. She suggests that years in sales without growth or adaptation might merely reflect the repetition of ineffective practices. 

This perspective encourages a re-evaluation of sales experience, emphasizing the importance of continuous learning and adaptability.

The Downside of Industry-Specific Hiring

Renteria also discusses the risks of exclusively hiring from within the same industry. Such a practice can lead to the incorporation of bad habits and limit growth potential due to pre-established relationships and practices. 

In contrast, embracing diverse experiences can bring fresh perspectives and encourage a growth-oriented mindset in the sales team.

Embracing the Desire to Learn and Adapt

A key trait that Renteria emphasizes for sales success is the enthusiasm for learning about new industries and products. This trait, often overlooked, is vital for long-term success in sales. Salespeople who show a keen interest in expanding their knowledge and understanding of different industries tend to be more engaged and effective. 

Their willingness to learn and adapt is a valuable asset in the ever-evolving world of sales, where staying informed and adaptable can make a significant difference in performance.

The Importance of the ‘Figure It Out’ Factor

The ability to quickly understand and adapt to new situations, termed the ‘Figure It Out’ factor by Brisa, is crucial for salespeople. Those with this trait often have shorter ramp-up times and can efficiently achieve their goals. 

However, the challenge for companies is to engage and provide growth opportunities for these high performers continuously. Organizations need to think ahead about the career paths of these individuals to ensure their skills and talents are maximized and retained.

Harnessing Behavioral Assessment in Sales Interviews

In sales recruitment, behavioral assessment during interviews is gaining prominence over traditional question-and-answer formats. 

Brisa Renteria emphasizes the importance of evaluating how candidates react and behave in various scenarios rather than solely relying on their verbal responses to standard questions. This approach delves into how candidates handle real-life situations such as rejection, their follow-up etiquette post-interview, and their overall management skills. 

For instance, observing a candidate’s method of dealing with rejection offers a window into their resilience and adaptability, critical traits in the challenging sales world.

The Criticality of Follow-Up in Sales

One behavioral aspect Brisa points out as particularly telling is how candidates follow up after each stage of the interview process. This behavior mirrors how they might engage with prospects and manage ongoing client relationships. 

A candidate’s diligence in following up can indicate their commitment, organizational skills, and understanding of the sales process’s nuances.

Problem-solving and Calendar Management

Problem-solving skills are another crucial area of focus in the hiring process. Renteria suggests practical methods to assess this, such as asking candidates to initiate contact for the interview, thereby gauging their approach and resourcefulness. 

Additionally, scenarios that test candidates’ ability to manage and remember their interview schedules can reveal much about their organizational skills and how they might handle future client appointments—a critical aspect of sales success.

Building Rapport Beyond Sales Conversations

Another vital area to observe is a candidate’s ability to build rapport, particularly in unexpected or non-traditional scenarios. This ability is crucial in sales, where relationships often determine the success of a deal. 

A candidate’s adaptability and skill in engaging in conversations unrelated to the job can demonstrate their potential to connect with clients on various levels.

Aligning Skills and Experience with Specific Roles

Understanding and aligning the specific skills and experience required for each sales role is vital. Different roles, such as a ‘hunter’ focused on new client acquisition and an ‘account manager’ concentrating on relationship maintenance, require distinct skill sets and personality traits. 

Brisa highlights the importance of differentiating between these roles and tailoring the hiring process accordingly.

Balancing Industry Knowledge and Role Requirements

While industry knowledge is beneficial, particularly for account management roles, it’s crucial to align candidates’ skills and traits with the specific responsibilities of the role. This alignment is more important than industry experience alone, as it ensures the candidate is equipped to handle the unique challenges and expectations of the specific sales role they are being considered for.

Differentiating Between Sales Roles

Finally, understanding and differentiating between various sales roles is essential for effective hiring. Roles such as hunters, account managers, and outside sales positions require unique skill sets and personality traits. Recognizing these differences and tailoring the recruitment process to these specific needs can significantly enhance the effectiveness of a sales team.

The Nuances of Role Specificity in Sales

In the diverse landscape of sales roles, the specificity of each role often dictates the level of industry experience required. Deep industry knowledge and subject matter expertise can be invaluable for roles like account management, especially in technical fields. This expertise enables sales professionals to effectively understand and communicate complex technical concepts, fostering client trust and credibility. 

Brisa Renteria highlights the importance of aligning role requirements with industry experience, particularly in fields where technical understanding is crucial for success.

Challenges in the Shift from Technical Expert to Salesperson

Transitioning from a technical expert role, such as an accountant or lawyer, to a sales-oriented position often presents significant challenges. 

Professionals in these fields may excel in their technical expertise but might not naturally possess the skill set or mindset required for sales. This gap highlights the need for tailored training and development programs to bridge the divide between technical proficiency and sales acumen, ensuring a smoother transition for those moving into sales roles.

Tackling Self-Limiting Beliefs in Sales

Self-limiting beliefs, particularly regarding money, value, and self-worth, can profoundly impact a salesperson’s performance. For instance, if a salesperson believes a product is overpriced, this internal perception can impede their ability to sell convincingly. Sales leaders must align their team’s beliefs with the organization’s sales goals and values. Coaching is crucial in helping salespeople overcome ingrained beliefs that may hinder their sales effectiveness.

Bridging the Gap Between Technical Knowledge and Sales Skills

The journey from being a subject matter expert (SME) to a proficient salesperson involves more than just acquiring sales techniques. SMEs must develop new skills and adapt their approach to fit into a sales-oriented role. This adaptation requires training for technical sales skills and coaching for personal development, especially in aspects related to Sales DNA.

Full-Cycle Sales Roles and Industry-Specific Requirements

Sales roles in specific industries, such as commercial real estate, can often be full-cycle due to specific licensing requirements. This means the same individual is responsible for all sales process stages, from initial contact to closing the deal. Such roles demand a versatile skill set, as professionals must be adept at various aspects of sales, including prospecting, presenting, negotiating, and closing.


Brisa Renteria’s approach to sales hiring marks a significant shift towards data-driven and diverse methodologies. She emphasizes understanding a candidate’s inherent traits and behavioral patterns by prioritizing’ Sales DNA’ over traditional metrics. This method, supported by the Objective Management Tool, offers a deeper, more objective insight into a candidate’s potential beyond their interview persona.

The focus on aligning a candidate’s experience with specific business needs and the value placed on diversity and adaptability underlines the importance of creating well-rounded, dynamic sales teams. Renteria’s insights advocate for a skilled, versatile salesforce, and ready to adapt to evolving market demands.


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