Hiring a sales team can be tough. Sales teams are often comprised of a variety of people with diverse backgrounds, levels of experience, and methodologies. So how do you find and keep the top talent? You need a strategy for vetting sales.
The first step in building your sales team is hiring great salespeople. You, of course, can start your search with people who have experience and who have excelled in sales already, but do not limit yourself. Salespeople are hidden everywhere. If you need to increase your talent pool Forbes put together a list of 5 Offbeat Ways To Find Great Sales Reps, which shows a few unlikely backgrounds that may make them the perfect fit for your sales position. If your pipeline doesn’t yield the perfect fit consider using a talent acquisition firm. Here at Menlo Partners Staffing we have a Certified Internet Recruiting team to help you fill any difficult position, including sales!
Expectation Setting Before Interviewing
In order to zero in on the right attitudes and experience in your desired Sales star, you must be very clear on what your end result looks like. Gather everyone involved in the sales cycle and poll them about the following: What does success on the job look like? What is the need, for the new salesperson to execute? Is it to hunt new business exclusively, increase dollars transacted, increase account retention, or improve the overall customer experience? What are the core traits that this salesperson must embody? Do you know what your sales philosophy is as a company or group? Sales roles are the most difficult positions to fill in Silicon Valley next to software engineers, so you may need to be flexible on the desired background of the applicants. If you are clear on the core traits and attributes you most easily look for transferable skills.
Have you bench marked your Sales compensation plan? This is a good time to go to market to understand how your firm stack ranks against the competition. Better to invest in research early on then learn a hard lesson via offer rejections.
Interviewing Sales Applicants
Once you have some prospects it’s time for interviews. Interviews for sales positions can look a little bit different than interviews for other job types. Start with a mixture of straight forward interview questions and behavioral interview questions. Start with the basics by understanding the sales environment the candidate has experienced to date. For example, can they directly answer their quota to production? Move beyond the informational questions to more experiential based questions. Can they tell you about customer experiences, major account wins or, most importantly, a time they lost a potential deal and what they learned from it? Ask them how they define success in sales? This is a great question that will help you to understand if, at the core philosophy, the applicant is a potential candidate for you. During the course of the interview pay attention to how much they talk versus how well they listen!
Testing and Presentations
To test or not to test? I believe it is a good idea to put candidates to the test, ask them to sell your product or service. This will determine how candidates react under pressure, how much research they did, and if they can present a good pitch. Having salespeople pitch their current company can be useful but many competent Sales professionals are good presenters. Asking them to present your company can yield information on how he/she prepares, presents information they are not deeply familiar with and will show you a more honest and genuine representation of material. This is a crazy job market and many sales applicants may not be patient with testing as a part of the formal interview process. Perhaps as an alternative consider testing them along the way in your interview process. Consider asking the candidate after an initial phone or in person interview to take the day/night to think about the role and email you to describe their interest. This shows the applicant’s ability to research, follow directions and you will see their written communication skills. Ideally create a scenario where the Sales applicant is in a position to close you!
Finally, be sure to move quickly! Sales positions are in high demand, the faster you move the more likely you will land the perfect fit for the team.