Finding the right people to represent your business and to do the best job of selling its products or services is crucial to the financial health and well-being of your firm. Sales people have a huge influence on initiating, building, and maintaining business relationships. Their behavior and business conduct will affect your company’s reputation and standing within your community. The right hires can make all the difference; a bad fit can be a very costly mistake.
Here are some tried and true tips for recruiting good sales people.
- Although it is important to prepare good questions, be a good listener. Pay attention to what is said and what is not said. People almost always tell you exactly who they are. Hobbies, outside interests, what grabs their attention – these are all important in determining someone’s overall personality. The catch is, you have to be listening and paying attention.
- Look for someone who exceeds your expectations. Has the candidate learned about your business before they met you? Have they taken the time to do some proper research? Do they ask you insightful questions? Make sure you give the candidates a chance to show you what they’ve done to prepare for their interview. Don’t volunteer all the information they might need in the first few minutes. Let them demonstrate the level of interest they have in your business. Their willingness to go the extra mile often marks the difference between an average employee and a star.
- Ask the candidates to prepare a concise sales pitch as part of the interview. Give all candidates the same time limit, parameters and input and see what each does with the topic. Good sales people can adapt their presentation – almost instinctively – to suit the needs/interests of the audience. Pay attention as to how well the candidates listen and pay attention to your input and direction. Individuals who override specific instructions in order to deliver something they believe is better or more impressive, will do the same thing if you hire them. Is this what you want?
- Bring a buddy/an observer. Often it is helpful to have someone there to observe and take notes while you can focus on the interview dialog. Sales people often are able to direct conversations to suit their objectives. Post-interview you will be able to exchange observations and determine how well your candidates addressed comments and managed tough questions. Most of us tend to hire in our own image, and having a second opinion is a good way to get a balanced perspective on each candidate.
- Interview in several different locations. Some human resources pros like to do three or four interviews with the same person in different locales. This gives you the chance to see how each individual fares in different surroundings and how they behave around different people – e.g. formal office setting with the boss, a meeting with peers or an industry meeting or trade show.
Finally, pay attention to your gut instincts. Even if a candidate meets all your predetermined criteria, if something doesn’t seem quite right, pay attention to your gut reaction. It could be an important red flag. Sales people must have an ability to fit in, communicate well and make those they meet feel at ease.