Practical Sales Recruiting Tips - Part 2

January 14, 2018

This week's blog post continues the conversation about how to conduct an effective sales recruiting process that was begun in last week's blog post, Practical Sales Recruiting Tips - Part 1.

Role Plays

If a conversation with a job candidate does not give you sufficient confidence they can perform an important sales function effectively, ask them to role play that specific function with you. For example, let’s say you're not convinced by a candidate’s explanation of how they convince gatekeepers to put them in direct contact with target decision makers. In this case you could say something to the effect of: “I’d like to role play the conversation you have with gatekeepers. Let’s assume I'm a gatekeeper and I just picked up the phone. Take me through the conversation you typically have.”

Another great sales function to role play is opportunity qualification. Pay attention to the kinds of questions job candidates ask (or whether they jump right into a presentation) and whether they are able to extract useful information from your answers to their questions and leverage that information later in the role play. Also examine whether they ask questions to explore the possibility of expanding the scope of the opportunity.

Multiple Interviewers

Many organizations have multiple people involved in the interview process. In many cases some of these interviewers are from departments other than sales.

My experience has been that many interviewers are not consistent in the questions they ask sales job candidates. As a result, each candidate is not given the same opportunity to impress.

Plus, I find that many interviewers from non-sales departments ask questions that have nothing to do with sales success. Instead, they ask questions that may be relevant to success in positions in their (non-sales) departments and grade candidates poorly if they are not satisfied with the answers. This can result in the company deciding to pass on sales job candidates that are a great fit for their sales position!

In my opinion it is absolutely critical for every interviewer involved in the sales recruiting interview process to keep in mind that they are interviewing sales job candidates. Here are some suggestions for how to structure a multi-interviewer process to produce the best results:

  • Ask each interviewer to write down the questions they intend to ask each sales job candidate. This will help increase interviewer consistency.

  • The hiring manager should review the questions that each interviewer intends to ask and discuss any questions that do not appear to be pertinent to sales performance. Remember, the purpose of the interview process is to determine how good a fit the candidate is for your company’s sales position.

  • Determine the information that should be shared between interviewers so that they don’t repetitively ask sales job candidates the same questions. Some duplication can be helpful because it enables you to inspect for consistency in the sales job candidate's answers. But, the greatest value from a multi-interviewer process comes from each interviewer focusing on a different area related to sales performance. For example:

    • The hiring manager has the deepest discussion about selling skills, techniques and approaches.

    • Another interviewer asks questions to gauge the candidate’s fit with the company culture.

    • Another interviewer asks questions to investigate how the candidate interacts with people in non-sales departments (assuming that a salesperson must interact effectively with people in other departments in order for the salesperson to be perceived as successful).

If you align your focus and the focus of other interviewers with the above suggestions, you should see consistently better results from your sales recruiting efforts!