It dawned on me the other day that I have been auditioning most of my life. I auditioned for plays in high school. I auditioned for the varsity offensive tackle position. Every week in wrestling, I had to “audition” to keep my position on the varsity team. Today, I audition with prospects about my training, consulting or recruiting services. But when I started my professional career and was seeking employment, I stopped auditioning and started interviewing. Why did the auditioning stop and the interviewing start? It does not make sense.
The roles I auditioned for had specific requirements. The offensive football team I played for had a strong-side tackle position. As the name implied, you had to be strong but it also required a quick first step because it was also the pulling tackle. I was both – but I had to prove it.
Interviewing is the weakest form of identifying if a person can execute on what the job requires, especially when you are interviewing salespeople. Chances are very good that you were never taught how to properly interview. Because of that, you ask the same questions everyone asks so candidates have developed the responses you want to hear. Add the fact that salespeople are taught to sell. Typically, they sell you in the interview to get the job and that is the last sale they make when they come to work for you.
Why not bring back the audition as part of your screening process?
I was talking with a company president the other day and he was lamenting that he has had five people turnover in an inside sales position. Because of this, he has never been able to build momentum with the thousands of leads he has developed. He stated in frustration; “They just won’t pick up the phone!”
I stated; “Why don’t you add an audition to your candidate selection process?” I went on to say: “Put them in a room with a phone, a list of names and phone numbers, your introductory script and turn them loose for an hour and see how many times they pick up the phone and how many times they connected with the decision maker. Record the calls and listen to them with the candidate and gauge his response to hearing themselves on the phone.”
Sales is a challenging profession because most of the time you are battling yourself. Being organized, being focused, being brave, being persistent, being smart, being adaptable, being quick, being humble, are all tough requirements. All of those characteristics can be identified in a one-hour phone audition.