Hiring is the MOST important thing an organization can do to create true success. The actual process is extremely important and most sales managers hire completely wrong!! A sales interview is almost always done wrong too. Do you even know what a true ideal candidate would be? Really?A sales superstar is someone who has the work ethic as well as the smarts and interest to be great. Of course, those things are true but there is so much more. Trying to hire a sales superstar from a resume or even description from an online hiring site, is like the proverbial ‘needle in a haystack’
The secret to hiring a sales superstar is to radically change your hiring process, which concludes with a powerful 20-minute interview.
Step 1. Define Your Sales Superstar
Describe your selling environment that identifies the perfect salesperson. For example: “Our ideal candidate has successfully cold-called CEOs, presidents, and owners of medium-sized companies and can close sales for conceptual services prospects. Our ideal candidate is successful at finding budgets when there are none and can close $50,000 worth of 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, but about the environment that you sell in.
You can also benchmark your candidate before you even define them. It’s a tool that can help you get there!
Step 2. Search For The Ideal Candidate
Write compelling advertising copy that describes the ideal candidate so when it’s read, he or she says, “that’s me,” and understands how your organization is different from any other. Even better, start networking for candidates that are already working. Look outside of your industry so you don’t get stuck with industry re-treads with below-average selling skills. If someone is leaving an organization, there is usually a reason. Plus, someone from the outside, once hired, can objectively ask the question, “why can’t we do that,” while someone inside the industry might have a stagnating pre-conceived notion.
Step 3. Qualify the ideal candidate
In a five-minute telephone screen, read your pre-determined key criteria and ask the candidate to prove he or she can meet them. The 5 minutes is all it will take if you do this right! Doesn’t seem like 5 minutes will do it? Well if you do it right, and have done a good job looking for your sales superstar, with the process above, you can!
Step 4. Test your ideal candidate
Use a proven test to separate those that will sell from those that can sell.
Step 5. Conduct the sales interview
DO NOT tell or describe your company and why it’s a desirable place to work. Make your candidate sell to you why you should hire them. It is important to put them in a similar environment that they will be in while selling. No prospect is going to SELL to your salesperson why they should sell to them!!
To separate the “real candidate” from the “interview face,” you must run the interview dramatically different from most employment interviews. In 20 minutes, you must unveil how the candidate would act in a tough selling situation. How?
Act like the toughest prospect the person will ever 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 the candidate comfortable, you are there to test abilities. Start with, “Are you my two o’clock? Go in the conference room, I’ll be there in 10 minutes.” Make your candidate wait. Don’t smile. Don’t be nice. After 10 minutes, walk in and 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 the candidate rolls over and acts as a compliant puppy dog, (by answering, “yes” or “sure”) you know he or she will wimp out in front of tough prospects.
Ask “prove-it-to-me” kinds of questions. “We’re looking for strong closers 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 your candidate really will 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 such as this, cold calling will be a necessity. If your candidate says it’s the only way to start in a new position, you know the cold calling will actually happen. If your candidate caves in and starts talking about research, letter campaigns, and marketing…you know you don’t have a hunter in front of you.