I’ve been very successful using a process called Selecting Winners which was developed by Barry Shamis, an expert in recruiting, hiring, and retention. I won’t go into all the details of Barry’s process here, but you can learn about it on his site. This method has a proven track record, so I encourage those who are hiring to incorporate the techniques listed below.
Real-world interview questions. In the initial interviews, I select topics straight off our employee review. That means we are dealing with real issues that definitely will come up during the course of work, such as quota attainment, relevance to the subject matter, and working with others strategically. Not only do these questions reveal useful information about the applicant, but they serve another useful purpose by introducing the applicant to the way we do things and what our company cares most about.
Do I want to buy? My goal at the end of an interview process with an applicant is that I want to buy from this person. So, after the initial round of interviews, where staff from parallel organizations see how they get on with the applicants, we bring individuals into do sales presentations for one of our products. I want to see how they create a scene. Do they move with purpose and use eye contact? I want to make sure they are coachable and can take constructive criticism.
Brand representation. Seeing a presentation is the best way to determine if an individual’s style is the right representation of your brand. Establish clear roles for the interviewers, so the applicant knows who is playing the COO, who is the account manager, etc. – and watch to see that they make eye contact with everybody. You can also see the depth of effort the applicant puts into the presentation; did they do appropriate research? You may discover how much you will have to train someone in order to get them up to speed. Don’t expect an expert, but do expect enthusiasm for the solution, so that the customer will feel it.
Social cues. We always take a potential hire out for something to eat. You can learn something from how they order a meal, and how they respond to the server. Do they treat everyone with respect, no matter what the role? How do they handle it if there is an error in the meal? Is it a big deal, or is it “too much trouble” to get it the way they wanted? If the server screws up a pancake order and the person gets all worked up over it, can you imagine how they would handle a problem in a business situation? You are hiring a salesperson essentially for their attitude.
Hire to stay. It’s interesting that people don’t often hire very well when a company’s employees are its most important asset! DemandGen is a virtual company with people spread out around the globe, most working independently every day. We have to trust our people and be confident in their abilities. We want to hire people so they last, and that takes diligence up front.
I highly recommend the Selecting Winners process. I know that, since I started using this method, my win rate went up a lot as far as selecting the right people! The people I hire now close business a lot more quickly than people I hired in (let’s say) another life. They understand our process and our business because they had to learn in order to get hired with us. And that means they are a little bit ahead of the game before they even start because they have a good understanding of our product and who they’re going after. Starting with a new company, a salesperson has SO much to learn; if you can get the company and solution set clearly in advance with your new hires, they can hit the ground running.
Sharon Kormendi, Account Executive, helps demand marketers launch and build long-lasting relationships with the DemandGen team. With more than 20 years of industry experience in both B2B and B2C sales and sales management roles, Sharon understands the needs of our clients and how to help them.