How much does it cost your business to find, hire, and train a new employee - $15,000, $25,000? It is time intensive to train a new salesperson so you better plug up the holes in your interview process to avoid costly oversights. There are ways to filter out prospective employees who exaggerate their past performance and abilities.
Filtering Interview Candidates
It is assumed that a business owner in a specific industry would want a salesperson who is knowledge and knows certain industry jargon. All industries have acronyms that are only known if you are in the trade.
Compose an advertisement for the position in a way that filters out the unlearned. The ad should be exact in how you want to receive their information. Have them put the definition of a specific acronym in the subject line of their email submission. If they cannot follow the basic directions they have basically just filtered themselves out, you don’t even need to waste time opening their email.
If the candidate passes that initial step, proceed with instructing them to answer a question via voicemail. This is a great time saver because it quickly gives insight into the person’s communication skills, knowledge level and speaking abilities. People who cannot follow these directions, give poor answers or sound unprofessional are easily filtered out of the running.
First Interview Questions
Now if the candidate has made it this far, bring them in for an interview to review their resume. But first, update your list of interview questions to weed out the undesirables. Here are a few questions and follow up questions that can evoke a glimpse at the real candidate.
“What is it about our organization that is exciting to you and makes you want to work for us?”
- A flag should be raised if the person cannot answer this with anything more than some generic response. If they haven’t done enough research about your company to discover something that they find exciting, does that mean they are undesirable? Yes it does. Do you really think they are going to perform the tasks required to contribute to your success? Not likely.
- Ok, basic question we all have on our list. Here are the follow up questions that get past their preconceived anecdote. “Ok, great story, what did you learn to do alternatively in the future?” “Did your changes work?” “What didn’t work?” These extra questions will help find out how truthful the candidate is. They will also shed light on how they dealt with problems.
- Some people have goals and some people do not, which type of person do you want to hire? The desirable salesperson will have definite goals. I always ask about their goals down the road in the future because it gives a wider view of where they want to be. I then know how well aligned my company is with their aspiration. Pause before hiring someone if they don’t have a vision for themselves; they might be a good salesperson, but not an outstanding one.
The candidate has made it this far, now it’s time to get creative with the interviewing process. Provide them with your training materials, sales script and have them study them. Tell them to come back in 2 weeks and sell you.
You will know in 2 weeks if they prepared or not. Dismiss them if they cannot deliver. If they do an impressive job and are astounding that is great but do not tell them that. Instead say “That was okay but I was really hoping for more.” At this point the candidate will show you what they are made of. They will either roll over or fight. The candidate that easily gives up and leaves has no place in your company. The candidate that gets mad and says that they can do better is the one you want. If they demonstrate their passion and drive, then give them another week to prepare and try once more.
The Third Interview
During this sales process, look for improvement and be aware of how they ask questions to collect your information. Look at how they set the expectation of the close in the end and pay close attention to their closing process, which should be scripted.
The sales training process has been mostly completed even before you make the hire. Not only have you filtered out people who cannot follow directions and poor salespeople, you have also filtered out the people who cannot close a sale effectively and those who lack the drive to fight.
While this is in no way a bullet proof approach to hiring salespeople, it does shed light on how you can optimize your hiring process. Yes the process is lengthy but it is time well spent. In the end you will have a valuable addition to your team.