Hiring Salespeople Using The Correct Criteria

Hire the Best - Use for Web applications, emails, etc“What does your gut tell you?” I asked my client about her potential sales candidate.  She stated; “I don’t believe he would be the right fit.”  “I would follow your gut,” I responded.

Two weeks later I received this email from her:  I’ve decided to move ahead with this candidate. ” Despite the fact that I told him I had other candidates he persisted in his follow-up.  I believe he will do very well here.”

Translation of that email:  I’ve had this position open for a while.  No one has impressed me.  I value persistence and I am basing my hiring decision mainly on the candidate that exhibited this attribute the most.

Here’s what I know about the candidate and the job:

  1. It is an outside sales position – he has no outside sales experience.
  2. It is a sales position where the salesperson does the closing – he has no sales experience in the area of closing.
  3. The manager has a management style in which she will seldom manage the person; meaning the candidate needs to be self-starting and self-directed.  Throughout the candidate’s professional career, he has been in nothing but closely-managed roles.
  4. The company sells a service that people don’t need and don’t want which results in a lot of sales resistance.  The candidate’s experience is selling a product customers needed and wanted … not only less resistance but one that requires a different sales approach.
  5. The position is open – the candidate is unemployed and highly motivated to get the job.
  6. This is a $100k+ annual income position.  It has a high base salary with a commission.  The candidate is not motivated by commission and the high base will cover ALL of his living expenses.

Based on what I have outlined here, would you hire this candidate primarily due to his persistence?

In baseball and in most things in life, three strikes and you’re out.

Given the sales cycle is over 6 months for this client’s services, this hiring mismatch will not reveal itself for a year.  At 18 months, the client will suspect something is not right and attempt to correct it by “pouring on” attention and training.  Too little, too late.  At 24 months, they will realize it was a mistake and at 30 months, the candidate will be dismissed.

Hiring salespeople is different than any other position because the candidates are trained to sell.  The problem is that most sell you on hiring them and that is the last thing they sell when they come to work for you!

mental-strength-checklistTo avoid falling into the trap of hiring off of the wrong criteria, follow these guidelines:

  1. Identify the results you want produced from the position.  Not just revenue results but activity levels, teamwork expectations, learning requirements, and any other key results the position should produce (e.g. number of new customers).
  2. Determine the skills the person needs in order to produce those results.  On a side note, just because a candidate has similar industry experience does not mean he/she has developed the skills you are seeking.
  3. Create a checklist of everything you have identified and determine which ones are “must have” versus “want to have.”
  4. Use this checklist when evaluating candidates.
  5. Use an assessment to identify their sales skills.  At Performance Group, we use the Dave Kurlan Confidential Sales Candidate Screening because it is the only sales assessment that identifies a person’s selling skills, matches them to your criteria, and predicts if the person can sell and will sell for your company.
  6. If the candidate does not have the proper number of check-marks in the “must have” column – don’t hire them.

Professionals (i.e. doctors, pilots, etc.) use checklists.  It is their way of ensuring they are focused on the important criteria when doing their jobs.  Isn’t it about time you stepped your hiring efforts up to professional level?

You’ll save yourself and your candidate a lot of frustration.