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 II – It’s the category of internal candidate criteria we tend to focus on the most when hiring sales people.  We tend to hire people we like, and we like people like ourselves.  So hiring for internal criteria his is where our gut takes over.

Humans are visual and we are evolved to make quick decisions on what we see.  One study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Doctor’s often evaluate their patients within the first ten seconds of entering the room, even without speaking to the patient, although they will deny it.  Jurors often select a jury foreman within the first twenty seconds, though the actual process may take much longer.  How long does it take them to judge the defendant?

I can’t say that I want to be diagnosed that quickly, or be judged by a jury of my peers based on how I look, so what can we do about this when we interview sales people, especially for the intangible internal criteria?  Do we hire for looks?

The first filter used in interviewing intangible criteria is match to your corporate values.  Why?  Because corporate values help you make triage decisions when there is a conflict.   Your values may say something like… always do right by the customer.  But you might also want to hire candidates that have a “desire to win.”  What happens when these are in conflict?  Values help you decide.  And if someone doesn’t exhibit your core values, how can you expect them to support your company?

The second filter should be your own list of inner characteristics that you believe make good sales people.   As an exercise, take a minute and write down the first five inner characteristics that you believe a sales person should exhibit.  Then prioritize them.  Regardless of how hard it is to determine these in the candidate, you won’t have any consistency among multiple interviewers if they each have their own list.   It’s a hard exercise and requires both discussion among your interviewers, and hopefully a way to generate evidence.

Lastly, you can look for external testing to verify these traits or generate a set of question focused on these characteristics.  So for example, if you value Intelligence, you can use a simple intelligence test.  If you value honesty, maybe you ask them if they’ve ever lied to a prospect.  I’ll cover testing in another post.

Some of my own criteria and the reason for them are listed here.  I’m not prescribing them; it’s just that I’ve found them useful.  Your situation will be different.

Emotional Intelligence:
They are all connected but represent different vectors.  I’ll discuss each in upcoming posts.

Do Great Things!

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

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