Even bad salespeople can appear to be strong in a face-to-face interview situation.  This reason is why sales recruiting is truly different than any other form of recruiting.  Reviewing resumes and assuming abilities is is a fool’s errand.  Yet, there are certain aspects of general recruiting that can that hinder effective sales recruiting.

The Resumes.
Yes, resumes.  I have sat through far too many discussions where hiring managers or recruiters attempted to divine incredible insight from a sheet of paper.  Granted, you can probably eliminate the retail salespeople from your B2B Sales manager process.  Sales is still a people-oriented profession so overanalyzing a document is not the most effective technique for filtering applicants.

Here is the issue – sales skills are not easily quantifiable.  They certainly cannot be determined from a resume.  They must be experienced, interviewed and questioned.

A salesperson’s most valuable tool is his or her qualifying ability.  Can they ask the tough questions?  Can they handle the rejection?  Can they drill down on fuzzy-worded responses?  This ability is the foundation of strong salespeople and it is most prominently displayed in the candidate’s questions.  This fact requires hiring managers or recruiters to have a discussion with the candidate.

The Questions.
This is a strange phenomenon – the strong candidate provides good answers in the interview but asks even better questions.  The hiring manager afterwards focuses solely on the candidate’s answers.  Obviously answers are important, but the questions are what point you towards a strong salesperson.

No, I’m not talking about standard interview questions.  I’m talking about questions that display their qualifying approach.  In your next sales interview, pay specific attention to the candidate’s questions and the order in which they ask them.  Trust me on this – you will learn more about their sales ability from that information than you will from their answers to standard interview questions.

The Recruiters.
Recruiting is a difficult undertaking.  Sales recruiting is brutal.  I know this will get flamed but I am a strong proponent of recruiters who specialize in sales only.  General recruiters who dabble in sales have a tendency to get schmoozed by slick salespeople who talk more than they sell.

I have talked to quite a few recruiters who believe that good talking equates to good selling.  It doesn’t.  This stereotype permeates sales hiring to this day.

Sales is filled with nuances that have to be identified by the recruiter and examined in the candidate.  Sales cycle, average order size, market position, selling system, competitive pressure, territory pressure…I could go on, but you get the picture.  Each position requires an understanding of these subtle points of information and what salesperson will best fit this criteria.  For this reason a sales recruiter is needed.

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