In yesterday’s article, Never Swing At The First Pitch, I stressed the need for patience in the sales hiring process. And, I identified three unproductive personas that hiring managers adopt when interviewing sales candidates that lead to bad hiring decisions.
Today I’ll provide five steps you can use to help improve your process for identifying and qualifying the best candidates for your open sales jobs. In addition, implementing these steps will help some of the risk and uncertainty from your sales hiring process.
1. Write an accurate, honest job description.
Be very specific about the experience and expertise that a sales candidate absolutely needs in order to succeed in your sales environment. Unless you are a new company you should be familiar with the skills and experiences that the successful salespeople in your company possess. Don’t succumb to the easy temptation to write too broad of a job description. It will just waste your time by inserting unqualified candidates into your pipeline.
2. Conduct in-depth evaluations of multiple qualified candidates.
As I discussed in yesterday’s article, don’t fall in love with the first candidate you interview. Invest the time to evaluate at least two qualified candidates for every job opening you have. It means that no matter how much you like the first person you interview, you should conduct in-depth interviews and reference checks on at least one other candidate before you make the decision who to hire.
3. Interview candidates widely among your management team.
If you’re reluctant to have the rest of your team meet your favorite candidate then you know you shouldn’t hire him or her. Selling is a team sport. Hiring should be a team sport as well. Take advantage of the ‘wisdom of crowds’ effect by having multiple people from multiple departments participate in the interviews of all qualified candidates. Sales has an impact on nearly every part of your organization and it makes sense to let other departments who work with sales have input into the hiring of a sales person.
4. Test all required skills and verify all resume information.
Testing candidates on the required technical/product knowledge and sales skills that you specified in the job description is a vitally essential part of a sales hiring process. Which ever skills and experience you specified in your job description as mandatory for a candidate to have need to be tested and verified. Interviews are no place for trust. Take simple steps to test and verify that candidates actually do live up to the claims on their resume.
5. Recruit internally
The best place to recruit new salespeople is inside your own company. If your company is in a technical field, then recruit technically capable people from within your engineering and product development departments. Look for the engineers who have exhibited a special knack for customer support or the engineer that every sales person wants to use as a technical resource on a sales call. These people are already spending a chunk of their time to help prospects make decisions and you should target to recruit them into sales. Finally, consider recruiting people from your customer support team. They know your products and services inside and out and usually have a good understanding of how your customers are using them to meet their business objectives.