by David Wuensch.
As a small B2B Business Owner, you can ill afford to carry around dead weight. When you hire a new salesperson, they need to be an A player or become an A player for you.
What do you look for and how do you go about doing that?
In earlier articles I discussed the use of Job Analysis Surveys, Job Performance Models, Company Culture Checklist, Job Description and Candidate Ranking Sheet to paint a picture of what we are looking for.
The hiring process included a resume screening, phone interview, face-to-face interview, online assessments, background check, reference checks and a final round of face-to-face interviews with selected team members and one last interview with me.
One key section of my interviewing process revolves around getting to know what makes them tick. In one of the interviews, I break things down into three “careers:” work career, education/self-improvement career, and hobbies/special interests/athletics career. For each “career,” I ask questions to dig into and understand what they are most proud of, what they liked the most, what they did the best, what they hated, and what did not fit their sweet spot, as some examples. The goal is to get to know who they really are and what makes them tick as a person!
My experience is that this process helps you get a good view of who they really are.
I do three separate interviews along with the online assessments to allow me to dig at each “trait” from a different angle. In the final round, I have the candidate meet two to four additional people to gain different perspectives.
There are typically nine areas that I am evaluating to see if this person is or can become an A Salesperson for my client.
My questions and conversation with them help me understand what they think of themselves and their desire to grow. I am looking to determine my answers to these questions:
- What is their history of self-improvement?
- Do they think they have all the answers?
- What have they learned about themselves in the past two to three years?
- Where do they want to go?
Throughout the process, I am evaluating their ability to listen and ask good questions. Again, I want to gain my own understanding with respect to:
- Do they seek to understand?
- Do they answer questions before fully understanding the question?
- Do they have the self-confidence to ask the tough questions?
3. Prior Success
I dig into the stories of the successes and failures that the resume represents to better understand how successful they were in the past.
- What is the history of meeting quota?
- What is the history of their earnings?
I also want to make sure there is a match for our “sales cycle length,” average sales price and level of brand awareness. If they are comfortable with a two-year sales cycle, selling $25 million deals while leveraging a Fortune 500 brand, they may not be a good fit for our small business.
I rely on the “eye” test and the Cognitive Skills portion of my online assessment to determine their capacity. I am typically looking for one with above-average intelligence, but that is not an absolute.
- How quickly will they learn our products and processes?
- Are they too smart for our prospects?
5. Work Ethic
We must dig into the stories to find out with what effort they apply themselves. Follow-ups to the following questions can also help understand work effort.
- Tell me about your typical day.
- What do you think it will take to be successful selling for us?
- How do you track your daily, weekly, monthly activities? What do you measure yourself on?
- How do you stay on track? Or get back on track when you fall behind?
- What are the keys to your sales success?
- Tell me about your sales process.
Again, it’s not so much these questions, but the follow-up to their answers to these questions.
Throughout the conversations, I am listening and looking for that competitive edge in their stories and in their demeanor.
- Do they love to win?
- Do they hate losing?
- Are they an honest competitor?
For whatever reason, candidates with a history of successful athletic competition tend to score better in this area.
They must have passion and be able to demonstrate it. One way to get a glimpse of their ability to demonstrate their passion is to set up a role play for them to sell you something based on something they love. Here is an example from one client:
- “On the second Zoom call, we have then sell us something. Whatever we discover in the first call that they have an interest in, we ask them to sell that to a few of us individually. One candidate had an interest in dogs, and she volunteered at the humane society. We had her sell a few of us individually on taking a shelter dog.” This role play provides an opportunity to witness their sales process and their passion all in one.
Successful salespeople are relentless about preparation. They leave as little to chance as they can.
- How well did they prepare for the interview? Their preparation gives you a glimpse into their practice of preparation.
In my final round, I also use these two questions courtesy of Mike Weinberg’s book, Sales Management Simplified, to help me better understand their preparation and identify a winner.
- 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 you had 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 ninety 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 your manager sat you down on day 91, what would you be able to tell him you accomplished in the market while he was away?
9. Rapport Building
We have all heard the saying that people buy from people they trust, and people trust people they like. Throughout the process, I want to observe their ability to make me feel comfortable.
- What did they do to build rapport?
- How natural was their rapport-building process?
Develop your own plan to carefully evaluate these nine areas when you go looking for the next A Salesperson for your team.