Quite the question, don’t you think? That is the title of this article from Selling Power. I have to confess I was perplexed by the entire thought – how would you as the hiring manager benefit from having your customer help you hire the salesperson? I see nothing but pitfalls in this approach.
My first thought is mentioned in the article:
“For example, the customer could be shopping around for someone he could squeeze on margins,” she says. “It’s more that they are looking for an easier mark, and that’s not to anyone’s advantage in the long run.”
No kidding – there might be a great advantage to the customer to find a salesperson who they can roll.
I have never encountered this customer-assisted approach to sales hiring. Here is another thought for hiring managers who are focused on experience-based hiring (I could riff on that but won’t) – would you be willing to expose your customer to a sales candidate from a competitor? I could see many salespeople acting as candidates so they could prospect in your most-valued customer list. Remember, your top customer is your competition’s top prospect.
At any rate, I think the article closes with the best approach if you are adamant about including customers in your sales hiring:
Another way to involve customers is when you are conducting a needs analysis for the position – before you even look at candidates. Ask your customers what traits and skills are important to them, and add them to your list.
Do that and then assess the candidates.