Hiring Sales People – I don’t know what a sales person is, but I’ll know one when I see one?


Marketing, Lead Generation Minneapolis, St Paul, Minnesota, MN, AtlantaPart I – I once ran into a Sales Manager printing his own interview questions for hiring a sales candidate.  I asked if I could look at them.  One of his first questions was what kind of car do you drive?  I asked why this was important, and he indicated that if the person was a good sales rep that they would drive an expensive car.  I pointed out to him that the best sales person I had met in twenty years drove an old pickup truck.

What are your criteria for hiring a great sales person, and what qualifications are you looking for?  There seem to be as many processes and sets of qualifications as there are sales managers.

I believe there are three types of criteria.
1) Circumstantial Assignment Criteria.  Those job criteria, such as experience in the industry you serve, location, or salary range you can afford.
2) External Candidate Criteria.  Those criteria you believe qualify the candidate and are verifiable, such as whether they have a college degree, references, and so on.
3) Internal Candidate Criteria.  Those criteria that tell you what kind of person you are hiring, such as whether they are honest, hard working, or have high EQ.  These traits are a little harder to determine, and they are the ones we tend to focus on with our “gut.”  There are also whole industries set up to help you “test” your candidate and “predict” their potential for success on internal criteria.  But one question is do they work?

Just as there is no single sales process, or single type of buyer, there is no single hiring process.  It depends.

So you begin by filtering your candidates for circumstantial and external criteria then bring them in for an interview.  Like the sales manager above, we all have our pet interview questions, but which ones should you use, and how should you interview and hire?

One of the best techniques for interviewing is called “behavioral interviewing,” and if you are not using the technique, it’s worth evaluating.  Its premise is that the best indicator of future success is past results.

So the questions asked focus on what the candidate has accomplished or the behaviors they’ve exhibited in past situations.  As an example, you could ask a candidate to “explain” what they do when they run into a roadblock in a sale.  Or you can ask them to give you an “example” of how they’ve overcome a roadblock in a recent sale.

The questions sound similar, but the first one is simply an intellectual or theoretical exercise.  Someone could know theoretically what to do, but have never done it.  The second question actually demands they tell how they have demonstrated the behavior in the past.   This type of questioning helps sort the BS’ers from the Doers.

In the next posts, I’ll explore Internal Candidate Criteria.

Do Great Things!

Lee Stocking
Prairie Sky Group
Making Sales Cry With Qualified Leads
651-357-0110 (Cell24x7)

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