Hiring salespeople is the difficult combination of science and art weighted perfectly to select the right person for the position’s requirements.  Obviously, knowing the position’s requirements is the preeminent step.  Many sales managers believe they know what it takes to be successful in the position and they do to a certain extent.  Yet, their knowledge often consists of themes as opposed to specifics.  This reason drives us to profile the sale as the very first step in our sales hiring process.

ManageSmarter.com’s Is Hiring Mediocre Good Enough? approaches a hiring process with some valuable insight and other items I wouldn’t recommend.  First, the reason astute hiring is mission-critical to corporate success (my emphasis):

According to a 2004 study by HR Hub.com, more than 1 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP) or $105 billion is lost every year to “poor hiring and management practices.” The Society for HR Management found the cost of a poor hire can range from $20,000 to more than $300,000—as much as 15 times the employee’s base salary.

Of course the hidden cost of a bad sales hire – the opportunity cost of losing good prospects to your competition – is immeasurable.

This approach from the article is one we don’t use:

“We evaluated each of the most successful ‘A’ performers in a particular position according to intellectual, behavioral and occupational interests,” says Vancini. “Using that as the standard, as candidates were interviewed, they were screened and matched against those known ‘A’ performers. It made the decision process easy and fact-based.”

Cloning may work for other positions, but I do not recommend it for sales positions.  The strongest sales teams have a variety of styles and abilities.  That variety is what gives the team strength.  There are core sales abilities that transcend positions and companies (e.g. handling rejection, qualifying skills, Utilitarian motivation, etc.), but most cloning involves behavioral styles which is not a predictor of success in a given sales position.  Don’t fall for this conventional wisdom.

Companies like to be inclusive, inviting as many peers and associates into the process as possible. Yet these interviews are not well thought through, and do not dig in and measure critical skills, which results in marginal feedback. This can stall the hiring process for weeks or months. Feedback from the myriad of interviews needs to be collected and easily available to provide detailed but focused feedback.

Drilling down on candidate responses; having clarity about their answers is the essence of good interviewing.  Yet, most prospects that we encounter over-rely upon the interview.  Using bad interview techniques as the backbone of your hiring process is the ultimate recipe for disaster.

If you are facing many challenges when it comes to hiring successful salespeople, we can help.

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