I am a sales professional and I am going to come clean. Sales people are very good at selling themselves, particularly in an interview situation and so they should be....right? The challenge for prospective employers can be in deciphering between the "sales talk" and whether or not the candidate will work well for the business. There is so much to consider including: -
Active listening & communication
Making the wrong decision can be detrimental to any business, the financial impact is usually a multiple of the salary paid, it can seriously stunt the sales growth and in some cases be the difference between business success and extinction. This might sound a tad dramatic but it's also reality.
Here are 8 tips for you to consider to increase your chances of success before making your next sales hire.
1) Hire Slowly - Take your time. I suggest a minimum of two to three interviews. It's hard to address all key factors in just one interview.
2) Change the environment - See what the candidate is like in a formal and informal setting. Most companies will need a team player and if possible introduce colleagues to the process to see how the candidate interacts.
3) Stack the odds in your favour - Build a thorough process and focus on the hard science of suitability first. Your gut should only be involved when its a neck and neck situation at the end of the process. Even then you have to check yourself, discuss with your colleagues and while some might see this as a lack of confidence, on the contrary its demonstrates thoroughness and more importantly recognition of the costs associated with getting it wrong.
4) Embrace Modelling - Consider support tools such as www.predictiveindex.com to help map candidate suitability to your type of selling scenario. There is value in these tools when it comes to suitability or identifying a weakness which needs to be explored further.
5) Ask customers for help - Look to competitors star performers and ask customers for their views on potentially suitable candidates in the market place. The best people are usually employed elsewhere and doing well. They may need to be prized away at a price.
6) You will pay for the best - Don't be afraid to pay. Even for Startup's with little funding, a strong sales person with a passion for sales science will deliver results quicker, help secure much needed revenues, attract talent and can be a mentor / trainer for less experienced sales people with a lot of potential. Young and hungry is a great strategy thereafter but having an experienced sales leader to guide and direct this energy is very critical to success. The important factor here is that an experienced sales person can operate in a Startup environment and the nuances that come with it.
7) Invest in On-boarding - A large part of the success of any sales person will be down to the investment in time you make to ensuring they get the support to put them in the best place to win from day one. Not to do so is like a sports team coach buying a player and not telling him/her how the team play or where he/she fits within the team.
8) Fire quickly - Getting it wrong is no fun for you or the candidate. When you have done everything in your power to make it work and it doesn't then don't hang around. I believe that you know within 30 days if it's going to work out or not and I apply a proven science which I stand by to make this decision. Factors such as personality come in a distant second to the science - contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to hear more about this.
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