Hiring great salespeople takes time, strategy and resources. Implement these three proven ways to acquire premium sales talent.
Hiring can feel like a drudge. It happens to the best of sales managers. You sift through stacks of résumés and finally find a promising salesperson for a territory that’s been lagging behind. You interview him or her and couldn’t be happier! All the skills and traits you’ve been looking for are there – high energy, strong personality, strong product knowledge, and excellent prospecting and closing skills. No question, this is the perfect person for the job.
Except, after only six months, the salesperson isn’t performing the way you anticipated. They are missing quota and generally floundering.
Hiring takes a lot of time and effort and the process can be frustrating at times. When a hire fails to hit their sales goals despite training, coaching, and effective leadership, the reality is that the person wasn’t right for the job in the first place.
So how do you avoid making this hiring mistake?
1. Ask specific questions over multiple interviews
A one-shot interview is not enough to adequately understand a person’s ability to do a job. If someone looks great on paper and has a solid initial interview, ask them back for a second and third interview. Bring other team members into the interview process. Getting multiple perspectives helps ensure a balanced perspective.
Also, ask sales-specific interview questions. Be clear about your questions and expect clear answers. You don’t have the luxury of allowing ambiguity to make an adverse impact on this decision. Here are three good sales interview questions:
– What is a qualified prospect to you? If they have sales experience but can’t tell you the difference between a prospect who will or won’t buy, you may want to keep looking.
– What words do you use when making a cold-call? Don’t allow for an explanation from your candidate. Instead, have them role-play so you can experience their level of prospecting acumen for yourself. If they fumble their words and are nervous, keep looking.
– At what point do you walk away from a sale? If they say “never,” you may end up with a sales rep who wastes time managing an overloaded pipeline of prospects who have been given contracts that will never come back signed.
2. Use an in-depth sales assessment
Even the most polished and seasoned sales candidates can wind up being duds. Using an in-depth sales assessment that measures more than just personality traits to help you uncover red flags that might not be immediately apparent.
You need to measure motivation to determine what drives them and to what level. In addition, you need to measure a salesperson’s thinking patterns – how they think, the judgments they make which lead to the outcomes they achieve.
Keep you poker face on during the hiring process. Maintain a level of objectivity throughout the hiring process and allow the best candidate to emerge without any superficial personal biases influencing the decision.
3. Be patient when hiring
Desperation can cloud your judgment. Give yourself adequate time to evaluate top candidates carefully before filling a position. A bad hire will cost you precious time and money in the coming months. However, when the right candidate shows up, they won’t be available for long.
Typically, top performers have between 3-5 job opportunities during the short period of time they are on the market. They can pick the best company from their available options. Dragging your feet could cost you a superstar.
My most common piece of advice is to consider hiring a good salesperson even when there doesn’t appear to be an immediate need. There’s no reason to wait until you lose a salesperson to look for a replacement. Keep your eyes open for good sales candidates at all times. Eventually, you’ll need them.