The secret to hiring a sales powerhouses hi is to radically reengineer your hiring process, which concludes with a powerful 20 minute interview.
Step 1. Define the ideal candidate. Describe your selling environment which identifies the perfect salesperson. For example: “Our ideal candidate has successfully cold called CEOs, presidents and owners of medium size companies and can close sales for conceptual services prospects will help their business but is not a necessity. Our ideal candidate is successful at finding budgets when there are none, and can close for $50,000 long term contracts in two calls or less. The candidate must have had prior earnings of at least $80,000 per year. Be very specific. Not about what you sell, that’s secondary, about the environment that you sell in.
Step 2. Search. Write compelling advertising copy which describes the ideal candidate so they read and say, “That’s me”, while differentiating your organization from any other. Look outside of your industry so you don’t get stuck with industry re-treads with below average selling skills. If they are leaving their organization, there is usually a reason. Plus, someone from the outside can ask the question, “why can?t we do that” and someone inside has a pre-conceived notion of why.
Step 3. Qualify: In a five minute telephone screen, read your pre-determined key criteria and ask the candidate to prove they can meet them.
Step 4. Test: Use a proven test to separate those that will sell from those that can sell.
Step 5. Conduct the interview. DO NOT tell them all about your company and why they would enjoy it. Make them sell to you why you should hire them.
To separate the “real candidate” from their “interview face”, you must run the interview dramatically different from most employment interviews. In 20 minutes you must get the candidate to reveal how they would act in a tough selling situation. How?
You have to act like the toughest prospect they’ll encounter. Yes, you need to be tough. Like the toughest experience you’ve ever had in front of a prospect.
Begin the interview without the normal pleasantries. You are not there to make them comfortable, you are there to test there abilities. Start with, “Are you my two o?clock?” “Go in the conference room, I’ll be there in 10 minutes.” Make them wait. Don’t smile. Don’t be nice. After 10 minutes, walk in, then say, “We’ve only got 20 minutes for this interview to cover an hour of information. Ready?”.
This is the first test. You want someone who’ll push back to get control. At the very least you want someone who’ll try to break the ice and bond with you. If they roll over and act like a compliant puppy dog, (by answering,”yes” or “sure”) you know they’ll wimp out in front of tough prospects. Ask “prove it to me kinds of questions”. “We’re looking for a strong closer who can handle themselves well in front of presidents and CEOs. Prove to me that’s you.
Keep the pressure on. Look for signs of discomfort or emotional involvement, such as rapid eye movement, giggling, staring at the ceiling or out the window, movement in the chair and changes in voice pitch or volume.
Here’s a strong move to determine if they’ll really make cold calls. “If we get beyond this interview to the next step, (remember to keep the pressure on!), you?ll be required to find $250,000 in new business. Once you?ve identified whom to call, how would you get appointments?”
The answer you are looking for is some form of cold calling AND referrals. In a new position they will need to cold call. If they say that it’s the only way they know how to start in a new position, you know they will. If they cave in and start talking about research, letter campaigns and marketing… you know you don’t have a hunter in front of you.
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