Think about your last recruitment adventure. After you selected the people, did they work out as intended? Or did they turn into somebody totally unlike what you thought when you interviewed them?
The most important aspect of any business is recruiting, selecting, and retaining top sales people. Research shows those organizations that spend more time recruiting high-caliber people earn 22% higher return to shareholders than their industry peers.
However, most employers do a miserable job selecting sales people. Many companies rely on outdated and ineffective interviewing and hiring techniques. The critical responsibility of hiring sometimes gets the least emphasis.
Hiring and interviewing is both art and science. Refusing to improve this vital process will almost always guarantee you will be spending your precious money and time hiring the wrong people. Two out of three hires prove to be a bad fit within the first year on the job, and otherwise excellent employees are misplaced and grow frustrated in jobs where they are unable to utilize their strengths.
Here are several reasons why traditional techniques are inadequate:
• The majority of applicants “exaggerate” to get a job
• Hiring decisions may be based on the interviewer’s “intuition” during the first few minutes
• Most interviewers are not properly trained
• Many interviewers do they like to interview applicants
An effective selection and interviewing process follows these five steps:
Step 1: Prepare
Prior to the interview, make sure you understand the key elements of the job. Develop a simple outline that covers the job duties. Possibly work with the incumbent or people familiar with the various responsibilities to understand what the job is about. Screen the resumes and applications to gain information for the interview. Standardize and prepare the questions you will ask each applicant.
Step 2: Purpose
Talented sales people have more choices and job opportunities to choose from than ever before, and the interviewer forms the applicant’s first impression of the company. Not only are you trying to determine the best applicant, but you also have to convince the applicant this is the best place for them to work.
Step 3: Performance
Identify the knowledge, attributes, and sales skills the applicant needs for success. If the job requires special education or licensing, be sure to include it on your list. Identify the top seven attributes or competencies the job requires and structure the interview accordingly. Some of these attributes might include:
• What authority the person has to discipline, hire, and/or fire others and establish performance objectives
• What financial responsibility, authority, and control the person has
• What decision-making authority the person has
• How this person is held accountable for performance objectives for their sales team, business unit, or organization
• The consequences they are responsible for when mistakes are made
Step 4: People Skills
The hardest to determine, as well as the most important part of the process, is identifying the people skills a person bring to the job. Each applicant wears a “mask.” A good interviewing and selecting process discovers who is behind that mask and determines if a match exists between the individual and the job. By understanding the applicant’s personality style, values, and motivations, you are guaranteed to improve your hiring and selecting process.
Obviously many jobs, particularly sales jobs, require a high degree of people contact. Placing someone who dislikes interaction with others in a sales job would be a mismatch and detrimental to his or her job performance.
Pre-employment profiles are an important aspect of the hiring process for a growing number of employers. By using behavioral assessments and personality profiles, organizations can quickly know how well the applicants will interact with their coworkers, their ability to sell and the kinds of relationships they build with customers. Profiles provide an accurate analysis of an applicant’s behaviors and attitudes, which are otherwise left to subjective judgment. For example, the D.I.S.C. Assessment* and the Sales Attribute Index* are popular and useful tools many sales organizations use.
* Ask us for sample copies to review.
Step 5: Process
The best interview follows a structured process. This doesn’t mean the entire process is inflexible without spontaneity. It means each applicant is asked the same questions and is scored using a consistent rating process. A structured approach helps avoid bias and gives all applicants a fair chance. The best way to accomplish this is by using behavioral based questions and situational questions.
Behavioral based questions help to evaluate the applicant’s past behavior, judgment, and initiative.
Here are some examples:
• Describe a crisis one of your clients faced and how you managed it.
• What makes you successful as a sales person?
• Tell me about the largest sales project you obtained and how you managed it.
• Tell me about the last time you broke the rules?
• Give me an example when you . . .
Situation Based Questions
Situation based questions evaluate the applicant’s judgment, ability, and knowledge. The interviewer first gives the applicant a hypothetical situation such as:
You are a sales manager, and one of your sales people is not making his or her goals.
a) What should you do?
b) What additional information should you obtain?
c) How many options do you have?
If we weren’t still hiring great people and pushing ahead at full speed, it would be easy to fall behind and become a mediocre company.
I hire people brighter than me and then I get out of their way.
- Lee Iacocca
Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.
- Shaquille ONeal