Over the years, I’ve been involved in hiring hundreds of salespeople. With that, the most valuable lesson I learned early in my sales leadership career was how costly it can be if sales job recruiters hire the wrong person for a sales role.
Your company not only loses money on the salary, benefits, and the time and resources to train this salesperson. They also lose sales revenue and potentially their reputation in the market place. Plus, the company paid internal or agency recruiters to recruit this person and now they need to repeat the whole hiring and ramp-up process all over again. And let’s face it, your reputation at your company takes a hit.
I cringe when I think back to the undisciplined and haphazard approach I took to hiring when I first became a sales manager. And I would probably get dizzy if I calculated the actual cost of my hiring mistakes way back in those glorious Internet 1.0 days. Hiring the wrong salespeople can have a lasting impact.
Fortunately, as I continued with my sales leadership career, I learned from some strong sales job recruiters and recruiting leaders, took some training courses, read some books, and simply learned from my experiences. I don’t have exact stats, but my rough calculation of my sales hiring success rate has me going from well below 50% during my first couple of years to well above 80% during my last 4-5 years as a sales manager.
Below are some tips that have proven to be successful for me, other sales job recruiters I have worked with, and clients we currently work with.
1) When it’s time to hire someone for your team, this needs to be your TOP priority.
2) Have a consistent and structured process – All candidates should go through the same steps.
3) Your process should be efficient but thorough.
Efficient means you need to ensure you don’t waste your time (and others) with candidates who are not a fit. It also means you should not have delays because of your committee’s or your travel schedules, etc.
Thorough means: as a strong candidate moves through your process, the more eyes and ears you have a meeting with this candidate, the better. It’s all about making a very important decision with as much feedback and data as possible. And it’s important for the candidate to spend enough time with you and your colleagues to ensure he/she makes the right decision as well.
4) To ensure you are efficient, thorough and use as much data as possible, have candidates take an assessment of some kind. Assessments save a ton of time by eliminating unqualified candidates early, and they give great, OBJECTIVE feedback on areas to focus on during the next interview rounds.
Implement the assessment into one of the first steps in your process, depending on how active or passive the candidate is. Active candidates should take the assessment before the recruiter potentially recommends the candidate to the hiring manager. Passive candidates typically need to speak with the hiring manager before they would spend time taking an assessment.
I’ve used a few different types of assessments as a hiring manager and we evaluated a few providers last year for our clients, and we found that the Objective Management Group’s assessments are the most effective for evaluating sales candidates. The short answer as to why – they are the only assessments that measure sales competencies, the will and desire to sell, and sales DNA.
5) Leverage a committee of trusted peers and colleagues – As a sales manager, I leveraged the sales job recruiters I was working with, 2 fellow managers (peers), my manager, and 1-2 of my current team members.
6) Coach your committee members on what types of questions they should ask and what they should be looking for during their time with the candidate. You should each be focusing on different competencies and characteristics of a candidate.
7) Use technology to ensure there aren’t delays in your process. Ie: if someone from your committee can’t make an in-person interview, use Skype/Phone, etc. Just make sure that YOU have enough face to face time with the candidate. Sitting across the table from someone is still the best way to get to know him/her.
8) With that, as a hiring manager, I looked to have at least 4 meaningful interviews with at least 2 of these interviews being face-to-face. (Ex: phone screen, in-person interview, an in-person sales role play (this can be virtual), and a final in-person interview).
9) Hold at least one interview (with you or committee members) in an informal setting. Maybe coffee or lunch in the cafeteria or down the street from the office.
10) Evaluate every touchpoint with each candidate. Was the resume well organized and well written? Did the candidate write thank you notes? Were the thank you notes thoughtful or a lazy 2 line cut/paste? Did the candidate answer questions directly and succinctly? What types of questions did the candidate ask? Positive or negative attitude? The list goes on and on and this is probably a great follow up topic to write about.
11) Dig into all red flags from your committee members, in real-time, so you can either pull the plug or address the red flags in upcoming interviews. My rules for red flags: One major red flag is a deal-breaker. A few minor red flags add up to a deal-breaker. This leads to the million-dollar question: When do you pass on a candidate?
I don’t think the answer is black and white or I would have a 100% success rate. With that, I also don’t think the answer is too complicated.
Trust the process, your instincts, the feedback from your committee, and the data from the assessment. With that, if you are still on the fence about hiring the candidate, I recommend you DON’T move forward with that candidate.
Hiring someone is like choosing the car or the house you buy, the right one needs to hit you on the head. I always need to clearly envision myself driving that car or living in that house every day. Just like I need to see myself working side by side with the person I hire….5 days per week. To learn more about BD Strategy's sales job recruiters process, schedule an initial consultation today.