Stress Test

July 15th, 2011

My nephew just completed the first 90 days of his new career in the high-risk insurance industry. The interesting thing is he almost didn’t have the opportunity to take on this new role after spending six years in real estate. After several interviews at various levels of the company, he met with the founder. Everything went well until he got up to leave.

That’s when the key decision-maker looked him in the eye and said: “Ryan, when I was in your position, I would finish an interview and wonder, ‘Where do I stand?’ So I want to let you know what I’m thinking. To succeed in our business, we need people who are 10s. I see you as a five. That’s not meant to hurt your feelings, just to let you know I’m not sure you’ll make it here.”

Although caught off-guard, Ryan said, “Well, I respectfully disagree and hope you’ll reconsider.” They shook hands and parted. After a few hours, Ryan had time to digest the unexpected ending, so he wrote a polite email to this gentleman outlining why he sees himself as a 10 and exactly what he would do to prove that. The next day he received an offer.

A few weeks after starting at the company, Ryan was sharing this story with a couple of veteran salesmen. They smiled and told him the founder did the same thing after their interviews. “He gave you a five?” one of them said. “All I got was a four.”

Successful salespeople have to be comfortable overcoming deflection and rejection. This veteran leader utilizes a unique interview technique to test candidates. Is there something similar your company could adopt to see who rises to the top and responds appropriately?

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