Developing a critical sales recruiting process

Recently a colleague asked me about a process for interrogating reality when recruiting sales people. I wanted to share my response to him…

“Do you have a recommended process for interviewers?”

Aside from reviewing resumes, final interviews, role plays, proof steps and reference checks to narrow the candidates down to best few, the initial process can be broken down into four steps:

1) Clearly define the competencies needed for the position. All too often industry experience and a person’s “communicated” success are the critical factors most will focus on when hiring salespeople. As Herb Kelleher (founder Southwest airlines) said, hire attitude and train for skill. Besides competencies such as hunting, coachability, fearlessness, selling value, closing, and qualifying, it is also important to consider a candidate’s will to sell, self-responsibility, motivation, and commitment to sales success. Prioritizing these factors over their prior experience selling your company’s product or service is hyper-critical.

2) Once you nail down the “must-haves”, the next step is to map out the “selling” profile. For example, does the profile require experience with long sales cycles, sales that exceed 250K and pricing models that are more expensive than the competition. All too often I see misalignment between candidates and the selling profile. For example, recruiting commodity hunters for highly consultative selling roles. (continued)

“How to suss them out of a potential new sales hire?”

3) The next step in the process is to find an objective sales assessment tool. There are many on the market, but we have found Objective Management Group to be the best.  Rather than focusing on personality type and attempting to bridge traits like dominant extravert or steady introvert to critical sales capabilities, OMG gets right to the CORE by assessing sales related preferences, approach, and competencies.

4) Finally, you will need to map out interview questions that help you “interrogate reality.” These questions should focus on the competencies you articulated in step (1).  For example, if qualifying is important then a great question is, “What criteria do you use when determining a deal is 25% vs 75% closeable?” and “What are your go to qualifying questions? Where did you learn them?

Other great questions could include, “What turns you off and demotivates you?”, “What thing (super-power) do you do better than most salespeople you have met?” and of course “What do you like and dislike most about sales?

Ultimately, a process for interrogating reality on an interview begins with a clear list of “must haves”, and an approach for making sure a candidate’s most vulnerable prospect isn’t you.

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