7 Steps to Hiring the Top 7%

Hire better…sell more.

By: Jim Peduto, Esq., CBSE

If you are like most companies, your hiring process looks like this:

  1. Place an advertisement (online or print)
  2. Review resumes
  3. Interview
  4. Hire

The process is prefect…unless your goal is to hire “A” players…the 7% of sales reps that are elite. If your ramp up time is long, the reason may very well be your hiring and section process. Hiring salespeople is not for the faint of heart, should not be performed without the right tools, and cannot be conducted without the right process.  Most importantly, gut instinct is not a part of this process.

This article describes the process that will actually result in recruiting and hiring successful sales people.

  1. Identify the Ideal Candidate:  This is the most important step. Ironically, most companies either give it short shift or skip it all together. The key is to identify the experiences that candidates must have in order to succeed at your company, selling your products, in your markets.
  2. Posting: Use your “ideal candidate” description for your job posting. The best approach is to describe the candidate that you are looking for in terms of their experiences and accomplishments. Your ad might begin, “You must have prior success selling facility services and/or janitorial supplies to senior management of large companies in a highly competitive market” and end with “you must have prior income of at least $65,000.” 

You will attract far more ideal candidates than the typical ad that reads, “Successful, well-known company has an opening for a goal-orientated salesperson. We offer health, car, expenses, 401K, salary plus generous commission, limited travel.”

You have to nail the posting – get it wrong and the wrong people will apply for the position. 

  1. Assess:  The sooner the better. Our statistics show that assessing candidates immediately upon receiving a resume identifies 50% more hirable candidates than delaying assessment until later in the process.  The best results come from using customized, sales specific, predictive assessments to identify the candidates who are most likely to succeed.  If the assessment isn’t predictive and you can’t rely on it, you’ll waste your time with the wrong candidates. When the wrong people apply, you have a pool that’s green and unsuitable for diving in.

It is also important to keep in mind that EEOC Guidelines require that if a company chooses to use an assessment, they must assess all of their candidates. Note that the EEOC’s position is that an individual becomes an applicant the moment his/her resume is submitted electronically.

  1. Qualify: Just as in sales, qualifying the candidate is both important and essential. You will only qualify candidates who, according to the assessment, are hirable. Your objective is to determine whether the candidate actually meets your requirements.  Plan on a 5-minute phone interview.  You will ask the candidate to explain how they meet the criteria in your posting. Evaluate how well they listen to your questions.  Are their responses support by specifics or generalities? Do you want to continue speaking with them or are you inclined to want to end the call? Try cutting them off abruptly to see how they handle your put-off. Award points for the various criteria and score each candidate appropriately based on how they meet your criteria.
  2. Interview: Since you already know their capabilities you can focus on other things like eye contact, self-presentation, spontaneity, presence, charisma, sincerity, warmth, intelligence, and how you would feel about this candidate representing your company.  Your interview should be guided by the weaknesses identified in the assessment.  A good assessment tool will give you questions to focus on.
  3. Hire and Onboard: Do you have an individualized, 90-day onboarding process that ensures your hires become productive as quickly as possible?   Does your onboarding process both develop selling skills and eliminate each individual’s weaknesses?
  4. Be Patient:  You must be patient enough to do it all over again if you don’t find the candidate(s) that meet your criteria.  If you don’t get what you want…answer this question:  12 months from now, will you be happy that you took three more months to find the right salesperson, or kicking yourself because you compromised, wasted a year, and have to begin the process all over again?

You are not alone if your sales hiring process does not enable you to hire top salespeople consistently.

Like most, your hiring process takes too much time and your recruiters cost more than necessary.

You can do better, and it is easy to fix it.

James R. Peduto, Esq., CBSE

JRP InViewJim Peduto is the Managing Partner and the co-founder of the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences (AICS).  AICS provides insight and bottom line results to property managers, cleaning firms, manufacturers and distributors. Jim is certified in Sales Force Effectiveness.

For more information and free downloads on the modern science of sales visit the Objective Management Group here.