7 Tips in Recruiting Good Sales People, and the things they didn’t tell you in Business School:
Rely less on a resume and more on what you see. Try this. Toss the resume to the side and say: “Okay, sell me something, anything!” This will test a candidate’s poise under pressure, their basic sales skills and their ingrained experience. Role plays are important. Sales people have to be good actors….lights, camera, action!”
The best candidate will generally get a job rather than be given a job. If you use a screener and they want to set up a second interview with a candidate, have them say something like. “…Betty Johnson will make the final decision on this. Connect with her next week sometime.” If they don’t pursue it aggressively, they weren’tthe right person for the job.
Find out their motivation for success. About 40 years ago a very successful Sales Manager told me that he’d rather hire a guy with a wife and kids and a mortgage than a single guy who might not need success. Perhaps it’s dated thinking, but it’s likely still true. So, if you are seriously considering a candidate, ask them and their wife, or husband, or etc. to dinner. If you hire the sales person, you get their family situation too. You want to know why success matters to this candidate.
Sales skill trumps industry experience every time. Don’t focus on a candidate’s product knowledge or lack of it. Technically oriented owners of small businesses do this all the time. If it is critical that the sales process involves a lot of technical knowledge, consider a team approach. Look at how Insurance brokerage houses deal with their customers. They have a Producer who is great at sales, and they have Account Managers that know and handle all the details.
Test their confidence. Say, “I’m not a big believer in large base salaries. Tell me your experience with getting paid for what you accomplish.”
Don’t discount likability. Throughout the interview process, keep an important question in mind. “Would I want to know this person outside of a work relationship?” Prospects will make the same judgments. The ability to establish bonds and rapport are important elements of any successful sales process. Don’t discount them in an interview!
Don’t be desperate. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have to put someone, anyone in the field right away. Warm bodies are a waste of time, vitality, image and money. Recruit for greatness!