By David Wuensch. 

Getting the right person in the right seat on the bus is easier said than done, especially in the world of sales. Sometimes, it seems like the best sales job the salesperson ever did was selling the sales manager on the notion that they were the person for the job. Unfortunately, all too often sales hires just don’t work out.

How do we remedy the situation? Here are five steps that will help you Hire the Right Salesperson for the Right Role in your company.

  • Define what you are looking for
  • Search High and Low
  • Work toward your short list
  • Conduct a Final Round of Interviews
  • Onboard your new hire

Let’s explore each step.

Define what you are looking for

Let’s start by looking for a good fit with each hire. Include traits, such as cognitive, behavior and interests; as well as character to include values, integrity, attitude and ethics.

It is tough to train character. Hire a curious, coachable person with strong integrity, good intelligence and strong work ethic and you can train the rest.

Do not compromise on these areas:

  • Culture Fit
  • Coachability
  • Curiosity
  • Prior Success
  • Intelligence
  • Work Ethics

An 80% or higher match on skills and behaviors are good enough if your candidate passes those six areas with flying colors. Those candidates can be trained.

Be clear on the salesperson’s primary role. Are you looking for more of a Sales Development Rep who is primarily needed to create new opportunities? Do you want more of an Account Executive focused on closing new business at new accounts? Or is it more of an Account Manager that will help grow business at existing accounts? Work with your assessment provider to build a Job Performance Model that matches the role for which you will be hiring. Determine the skills and expertise that is needed to do the job so that you can complete a Job Description and Candidate Ranking Sheet to measure each candidate. Here is a sample Candidate Ranking Sheet:

Search High and Low

Like prospecting, B2B Business Owners should always be on the lookout for potential sales hires. Build a pipeline like creating new opportunities for new business. Constantly network and ask for referrals for good salespeople. Intentional monitoring of LinkedIn may help uncover some salespeople to talk with. The best candidates may not be looking for a new sales position. Also, encourage and incentivize your team to be on the lookout for good sales talent to help you find potential talent.

Some people have luck by partnering with local universities that have Sales Education programs. Universities need people to help with Sales contests.

As for candidates who are actively searching, Indeed and LinkedIn seem to be working best these days to help find salespeople.

Like prospecting, always be recruiting for salespeople.

Work Toward your Short List

Develop a process to get to your short list. My process involves screening resumes to find up to 16 candidates for 25-minute phone screens. I developed a standard list of 11 questions to help me determine what type of salesperson I think they are and learn more about why they are looking. Next, I will do face-to-face interviews (Zoom or in person) for up to eight candidates. My questioning strategy allows me to get to know them better as a person as well as a salesperson. In this interview, I also gain insight into their compensation desires. Based on this series of interviews, I will select my short list which is typically three people when looking for a single hire. When looking for two or more salespeople at the same time, I increase my numbers by 50%.

Conduct a Final Round of Interviews

I complete background checks, online assessments and reference checks for those who are on the short list. I assemble an interview team to help me get a more complete view of the candidate with respect to culture fit, motivation, habits, and results as well as skills and experience. The assessment results will assist us in this round of interviewing.

As for the final interview with each candidate, I really like two questions that Mike Weinberg shared in his book, “Sales Management Simplified”:

  • Tell me about the last two significant deals you won due to your own proactive sales effort. Share the whole story from beginning to end. How did you identify or create the opportunity? How did you “get in”? Describe the discovery process. Tell me about the various stakeholders. How did you build interest and consensus? Take me through the chronology of the various conversations and meetings all the way through presenting, proposing, negotiating, and closing the deal.
  • Let’s assume we hired you and you started on Monday. After getting you oriented to the company and giving you an email address and business card; we turned you loose. In fact, let’s pretend that your manager and I headed off to Hawaii for 90 days. Completely left on your own, I’d like you to sketch out how you’d approach the job. Where would you start? What would you do? Where would you go to learn more or for help when you needed it? If you manager sat you down on day 91, what would you be able to tell him you accomplished in the market while he was away?

I also have questions in the areas of Coachability, Curiosity, Competitiveness and Adaptability that I will dig into, as appropriate.

I conduct a roundtable discussion with the interview team. First, we determine which individuals we feel are qualified to do the job. Assuming one or more are qualified, we select the best fit. If not, we go back to the drawing board.

Onboard Your New Hire

A good onboarding process is as important as a good salesperson selection process. First, you want to make your new candidate feel welcome. Second, review the Company’s Sales Strategy so that the new hire understands the direction of the company and where they fit. This includes a review of the Business Results Goals, Selling Objectives and Sales Activity Metrics. Next you want to walk them through your sales processes from building targeted lists to a review of the Company Sales Story and your sales processes to assist them in creating new opportunities and closing deals. The last step is an orientation of the Sales Tools to help them do their job.

Follow the above five steps so you can get the Right Salesperson in the Right Sales Role!