It might surprise you what I’ve learned after working with salespeople for over 20 years on selling skills and strategies. Some salespeople should have never been hired for sales. I sometimes wondered how they ever got hired in the first place. Obviously, the only sale that ever took place was the sale to the sales manager. That was an unfortunate sale. Here’s how you can avoid getting sold and making a bad hire in sales.
What did they sell?
Just because you can sell an expensive tangible item doesn’t mean you can sell a less expensive intangible item. I’ve seen “successful” salespeople apply for different jobs and they got the new job because they were able to demonstrate previous sales success. Only they really weren’t successful.
Their previous success was simply the result of a sales process which drove highly qualified leads towards these salespeople who were in effect simply taking orders. An order taker doesn’t make a great salesperson. Ask your job candidate about their sales process when you interview someone for sales. How did they get their leads? What was their role in the sales process? You are looking for someone who can communicate the value of your offering and understands customer concerns. Persuasive skills are required. Taking an order doesn’t require any of these skills.
Chatty doesn’t make it in sales.
I remember meeting someone who told me that she would be great in sales. Why? Because she told me she loved to talk! Someone who talks too much doesn’t listen very much. Listening is a far more important selling skill than talking. Watch how much talking your candidate does in the job interview. It’s a clue about how much talking they will do in a sales call with your prospects.
The job interview is effectively a sales call. Your prospect should be demonstrating the same sales skills he will be using as he sells to prospects. I judge a sales call to be effective when the prospect or customer is doing 80% of the talking. You should be as much a part of the conversation as the job candidate. Why? Because your job candidate should be learning about you, the job and your company.
Your candidate is less skilled as a sale professional if he’s not trying to demonstrate how he fits your job requirements. He has no way of knowing what those requirements are unless you’ve told him what they are. Unless they have been sent out in advance, the only way the candidate could know these requirements is if he’s asked about them. Good listeners ask good questions. Judge your candidate on his listening skills.
Avoid buyers’ remorse.
Some companies are buying more than the candidate’s ability to sell. The company is buying a shorter sales cycle by buying the candidate’s contacts. Beware if your candidate tells you how much business he can bring to your company. Get the names of these possible customers and call to verify their intentions to change and do business with your company.
Most salespeople will sell you the idea that they can bring a lot of business with them. Most unfortunately can’t. My experience has shown me that less than 10% of salespeople who say they can bring all their business with them actually can accomplish it. You will be sold unless you verify the likelihood of getting new business. While you’re at it, your job is to check references to determine that everything your candidate promises has been demonstrated by past performance.
A salesman’s job is to sell. A sales manager’s job is not to get sold when interviewing an underperforming candidate.