Over the past 12 years we have been invited into countless President and CEO’s offices to discuss the topic of hiring salespeople. Before the President/CEO opens his/her mouth, we can typically predict what they are going to say. We could hand them over a few comment cards with the following issues and almost guarantee their thoughts will be one or two statements on the card. Comments like:
- Hiring Salespeople in this organization has been our biggest challenge!
- We have X number of salespeople but only 20% of them are running on all cylinders – we need better salespeople!
- We figure over the past year the cost of our bad hires in the sales department has been $X. Many times the figure is in the millions of dollars.
- Our Sales Managers keep hiring the wrong salespeople on the team.
- The cost of hiring mistakes in our sales department is causing the whole company to suffer
- And the list of comments goes on….
Related Article: Risk When Hiring Sales People
The reason we continue to hear these “hiring mistake” comments is because we are being brought into the company to assist in hiring the right sales team members through a structured hiring process.
What is surprising is to see how little process and logic has been put into existing sales teams hiring processes.
Here are a few points that will assist hiring teams in starting to get on solid ground when hiring their next salesperson.
- Industry knowledge trap – most companies think that when their hiring salespeople they have to come from within their industry. The problem with this thinking is that the same non performing salespeople get “recycled” from company to company. These smooth talking sales candidates go into the interview dropping names and talking the industry jargon and ultimately win the job. Hiring teams need to realize they don’t have to (and maybe should not) hire from within their industry. When hiring salespeople, find someone good and then teach them your business!
- No structure to the initial interview – Sales managers and other hiring team members need to be provided a set of structured interview questions that “need” to be asked (by the manager) and answered (by the candidate). No exceptions. Do not allow Sales Managers to “wing” the interview.
- Accountability after the interview – when a sales manager interviews a candidate there must be a follow up or accountability meeting with others within the company on the evaluation of each candidate. Hiring managers are spending valuable company time on each interview so why not take a few extra minutes and review the interview with a fellow manager or associate. Do not allow managers to get away with comments such as “I liked or didn’t like the candidate”. There needs to be concrete reasons why a candidate will be moving forward or be released from the hiring process. Hiring managers should rate or grade each candidate on common attributes discovered in the interview process. This score / grade can be reviewed in the follow up meeting with team members.
- Bring other forms of assessments into the evaluation process – the interview can’t and should not be relied upon as being the only form of assessing a candidate. Online assessment centres, in-tray exercises and job simulations can bring more structure and rigor to the hiring process. Each element of the hiring process (interview, online assessments and job simulations) should then be graded and provided weights to assist each team member in better understanding the candidate’s ability to execute on the job.
Hiring Salespeople should not be difficult or a mystery. Incorporating these four points mentioned in this article will bring more accuracy and profitability to each hire.