If you read my previous post on mistakes in sales recruitment you know 3 big mistakes businesses can make when recruiting sales people and getting someone who’s not the sales superstar you wanted but a sales dog who actively kills done deals..
This post goes through a 7 step process to get the best sales person you can get.
Step 1: Your Industry Is Different
Of course your industry is different. However sales is based on human psychology and relationships.
So understand that if you recruit a super star sales person they don’t need to have worked in your industry at all. Truly great salespeople can apply sales principles to any industry. So don’t limit yourself to sales people in your own sector or niche.
Some sectors, such as finance, do require sales people to have certification. However getting a great salesperson means you seriously need to consider whether you’re willing to train them to get their certification.
Step 2: Advertise The Right Way
Too many sales recruitment adverts are all about the job, very little about the sort of person they want to recruit.
Your advert needs to stand out, capture the attention of the best sales people and to challenge them to apply for the job. At the same time you want to use the advert to frighten (yes I mean frighten) the people who think they "might be OK at sales", or "I usually make my figures."
Your advert needs to go into the best media to capture the type of sales people you want.
Step 3: Give Sales Spiel Short Shrift
Make sure the advert asks them to ring so you can talk to them before revealing further details about the sales job.
Again, use a short phone interview process, that challenges their ability as a sales person. Break into their sales spiel about how great they are, make sure they sell themselves to you. Ruthlessly get rid of people who obviously aren’t sales superstars. Those that are make sure that you interview them quickly (within a week). Otherwise they’re off with another company – if they’re looking you’re not likely to be the only iron in their fire.
Step 4: Conduct A Psychological-based Interview
Use a structured interview that you ask all the candidates the same questions. I use a pre-formatted series of questions that experience has shown brings out the best (and worst) during interviews.
A psychological-based interview is used to understand the attitudes a person has and brings to their work. These sorts of attitudes are reflected in their childhood and their experience in the job market so be aware that the best sales people can have very unusual CVs.
Also make sure your prospective sales person can mark themselves against a series of sales abilities you know every sales person needs.
Finally make sure they can really sell themselves to you before you even consider short-listing them.
Step 5: Perform A Sales Profile Test
It’s always important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of any candidate. If you’re convinced they’re a strong contender it’s useful to ask them to take a sales profile test. I use one that’s been tried and tested to find hundreds of great sales people.
The reason for the test is not to second guess what you’ve found out during the interview. It’s more about confirming what you’ve found. identifying strengths to build on and weaknesses to be aware of and to counteract.
Step 6: Decide Fast Slowly
Like I said before once a great sales person starts looking for a job they have any number of opportunities to go and work for companies. So if you’re sure they’re for you offer them the job as soon as is practicable, and of course you should make it dependent on references.
That said don’t offer it so quickly that you don’t check what they’ve said or thought about their answers, or considered their profile.
And always make sure that you ask for and take up references. Check the reality of the CV with the referee and also ask about some of the attitudes your interview and the profile has revealed.
Step 7: Hire Slow, Fire Fast
I don’t mean make the hire decision slowly. I do mean make sure you go through every step of your sales recruitment process properly. Don’t be tempted to jump to the job offer after the first 15 minutes of the interview!
Then once they’re in place. Make sure that they understand your industry, what you’re selling, your key competitors, your current customers and where you’d like to sell more.
Then monitor their sales activity. Be aware of their weaknesses but don’t harp on about them.
If they don’t start bringing sales in, ask yourself the reasons. If they’re outside of the sales person’s control work to remove them. If they’re in their control work with them to remove them. Finally if they just don’t perform for you get rid of them.
Keeping on a salesperson who doesn’t bring in sales is rather like having your brakes on when you’re going uphill in your car. The likelihood of getting to the top of the hill is nil. And in fact with the brakes on the rest of the car is more likely to go straight back down the hill!