We go after experience-only hiring in that it is overly subjective and wrought with pitfalls. But that doesn’t mean experience is irrelevant. There are certain aspects to an applicant’s history that is important for hiring decisions.
I’m currently sourcing for a mid-level, B2B sales position in the Twin Cities’ market. Although open to less-experienced sales candidates, our customer still requires a certain level of sales experience for the position.
This requirement means that the Best Buy salespeople, car salespeople and other retail-based experience is not a fit. I am certain there are talented salespeople within those groups, but the mitigating factor is that our client’s sales cycle is long (up to 2 years). Although I think Lee from our company may have a buy cycle that long, most retail purchases are far shorter, even automobiles. The onramp for this type of salesperson would be too long to navigate.
The main point in looking at experience is getting an understanding of the sales model(s) the salesperson has sold. Was it a quick close or extended cycle? What type of prospecting did they incorporate? Who was the target level they approached (C-level, manager-level, etc.)? How was their product/service positioned in the market?
Some of this information can be gleaned from a resume. I have had a rash of electronics store salespeople responding to an ad. I don’t have to go much further than the resume to know that I cannot place them into this level position. That is the time when experience matters.