Useful Step Process for Hiring Top Salespeople

Failure to consistently hire top sales people that are a fit for your organization results in another problem, high turnover in your sales force. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal said that turnover costs are $150,000 per sales person on average.

Good news for your organization: you can remedy these problems when you establish a proven process for hiring top salespeople.

Here is a proven 7-step process for hiring top salespeople:

  1. Determine Your Ideal Salesperson Criteria. What skills, habits, strengths, and motivations do you need? What do top salespeople who sell to your ideal customers actually do?
  2. Attract Top Salespeople. The major online job sites are a good place to start. Write an ad that describes the top salesperson, their experiences and their accomplishments; you want top salespeople to say “that’s me”. For example, “You must have successfully sold services like ____… to people like____. You have earned at least _____. You are good at ___, ____, and _____. You’re looking for a company that ___, ___, and ___.”
  3. Assess All Candidates. Consider letting a well validated and predictive assessment perform your first screen. Don’t look at the resumes of candidates. Many potentially top performing salespeople are screened out with this flawed process. A good assessment not only saves time, but also delivers more qualified candidates!  A validated and predictive assessment is critical to getting more of your sales hires to be in your “A” category.
  4. Qualify. Conduct your first interview by phone if possible, make it a brief, tough, interview to further qualify your sales rep candidates.
  5. Full Interview.  This longer, recommended, in-person interview needs to challenge each candidate to confirm that they are truly qualified and a fit for your company. Have at least two people participate in this step to minimize your personal bias. Make sure these people have the necessary skills to interview effectively.
  6. Persuade. Here is where you go from being purposely tough on the candidate to being a top salesperson. After you have made the decision they are the candidate you want to hire, now is your opportunity to sell your candidate on their very important role, their potential rewards, sell them on the organization, and on the organizations’ leadership.
  7. Onboarding. Prepare a comprehensive plan for your new salesperson’s first 90 days. Reach beyond product training and organizational orientation and develop a Quick Start plan that includes goal setting, sales training, coaching, accountability and other actions. A well prepared and executed 90-day training plan can improve your success rate with your new “top” salespeople from over 90% to near 100%.

Assess Before the Interview

If you look at the proven seven-step process closely, you will note that the assessment takes place before the interview. You may be thinking this process can be too expensive or not result in your getting enough candidates. The truth is assessing before interviewing is actually less expensive. You will most times get up to 50% more qualified candidates, and you are EEOC compliant.

Criteria for Selecting Your Assessment

This proven process of hiring “A” salespeople solves the problems of the typical hiring process, and it relies on a well validated and predictive assessment to screen your candidates. Here are some criteria for selecting an assessment:

  • Accurate: The assessment’s validity needs to be verifiable or you will lose good candidates, waste time and possibly hire a bad candidate.
  • Pursue / Do Not Pursue: The assessment must provide this, so that you only interview those high potential sales candidates.
  • Prepares an interview: The assessment should prepare an interview based on how the candidate scored. This gives you the ability to get beyond the “pat” interview answers the candidate has taken from how to interview books and multimedia to discover potential candidate issues.
  • Identifies the candidate’s strengths/weaknesses: So, you will know the candidate’s specific training needs and the likely issues to expect if you hire them.If you do not have a consistent sales hiring process your “C” salespeople will consistently lose to better salespeople.

You and they will have to discount your products or services to win. You will consistently have trouble getting the bigger, better, and more profitable customers. Your business will not be growing like you know it should.

How do I know why bad hires are expensive? Because I’ve been there. I’ve hired “C” salespeople and been through the frustration that making the wrong hire can cause. My organization lost business I know we should have won.

The good news is this: you do not have to wonder whether a sales candidate can sell for you. You can know if a sales candidate WILL SELL! You can attract, hire and retain more “A” salespeople and you can help them be successful quickly. You can survive a tough economy; in fact, with top salespeople, you can gain market share and thrive.

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