Hiring the RIGHT Salesperson – Part 4

 

The candidate in front of you is articulate, likeable, professional, interviews well, and has an excellent résumé. The real question is – if I hire this individual, will he/she be successful?

 

This is the final installment of an article on how to select the right salesperson. These same strategies and tactics could be applied equally to hiring ANY position in any industry. In the first three installments of this article we answered seven important questions:

1. What are the top four mistakes made when hiring salespeople?

2. What is the real cost of making a poor hiring decision?

3. What are the planning essentials you must get right at the start of the hiring process?

4. What are the top job-specific factors that must be considered when hiring?

5. What are the best predictors of success when considering a candidate?

6. What factors must be considered in order to get sales compensation right?

7. Are there different factors to be considered when adding to a sales staff, versus hiring a solo performer?

In this final part of Hiring the RIGHT Salesperson, we’ll explore the answers to three more burning questions.

 

Question 8: How Can I Improve My Chances of Getting the Hiring Decision RIGHT? Let’s take a more holistic approach in answering this question. The entire hiring process must be characterized by solid planning and execution. Among the effective actions you can take are:

1. Before you even begin recruiting candidates, identify ALL of the hiring factors you will use to make your hiring decision. Essentially, you’ll want to set up a matrix of the factors (such as must-have skills, experience, how the candidate interviews, reference checks, and all the other factors). Determine how and when during the recruitment process you will be able to observe each factor for each candidate. And how you’ll measure or assign value to each factor when you observe it. By establishing this ahead of time, you’ll ensure that all candidates are evaluated using the same scale, and this will help you avoid over-valuing candidates that absolutely wow you in a single factor, such as their interview or pre-employment testing.

2. Similarly, before you begin recruiting sales candidates, you should plan – in writing – your entire recruitment and interviewing strategy/plan. Just as you would not go on vacation without first having planned where you are going and how to get there, mapping out your specific plan for recruitment will allow you to establish reasonable timelines to meet the specifics of your planned hire. This should be done for each phase of the recruitment. To help you understand the need to give full consideration to plan each recruitment phase, let’s take a look at the interview phase as an example of how you might develop any recruitment phase. Here are several questions that need to be answered in order to plan the interview phase:

a. Who will be on your interview team?

b. Will you interview candidates individually, in a group (multiple interviewers at the same time), or both?

c. What interview questions will be asked of each candidate? There should be a set of initial questions asked of every candidate which are selected ahead of time.

d. Will you use face-to-face, telephone, and/or video interviews?

e. What specific factors will you use to score candidates during the interview, and what are your specific scoring criteria?

3. Allow enough time for the recruitment to take place. A farmer doesn’t plant a field and expect to harvest it the next day. Any recruitment will take time to do complete. By fully mapping out your entire recruitment you’ll be able to set reasonable expectations for how much time it will take to hire successfully. And by planning details of each recruitment phase in advance (such as your interview strategy), you’ll be in a position to execute each phase faster, with better results.

4. Finally, avoid the desperation hire. Desperation hires almost always fail (see the answer to Question 2, Part 1). Avoid desperation hiring at all costs.

 

Question 9: What are the Top Hiring Factors to Include in a Hiring Decision? Here are my top eight hiring factors in no particular order. Hiring decisions should always be based the combination of factors and not any one single factor. You’ll need to prioritize factors for your own situation, and assign relative importance/ scoring for each factor:

1. Past Experience. The experiences that are most important are the ones that are applicable to the opening you are trying to fill. Other experiences are nice-to-haves; applicable ones are must-haves.

2. Candidate Credentials. These are expressed in terms of quantifiable accomplishments and results that a candidate has delivered. Projecting what someone might deliver is only conjecture at best. And these credentials are subject to verification in factor 7 (below).

3. Interview Results. Assuming you’ve followed the guidance from Question 8, point 2 (above), candidates can be scored objectively, and the scores can be compared to one another, in order to determine the relative strength of how all candidates interviewed.

4. Assessments & Test Results. Assessments and test results should never be used as the sole criteria for selecting or rejecting a candidate, but as one of many hiring decision factors. Assessments and test results are extremely valuable as they reveal additional information about a candidate. For example, you can learn about a candidate’s ability to fit your team and culture using a DiSC behavioral assessment, and you can learn whether or not a salesperson knows and understands the best practices of B2B selling using a knowledge-based assessment such as the B2B Sales Essentials Assessment.

5. Candidate Fit. The Number One reason for a candidate to fail once hired is his or her inability to fit with an employer’s culture, team, and/or customers.

6. References. The references a candidate provides are usually people from whom the candidate expects a positive reference. Contact the references your candidate provides, ask your reference checking questions and then ask: “Who else besides you did the candidate report to or work with, that I might contact?” Reach out to these people and you’ll get a more complete picture of the candidate, and likely a more balanced perspective of who he or she really is.

7. Background Check. This includes checking on a candidate’s criminal history, their Social Security Number, employment history, education, social profiles, and other job-specific (and legally permitted) checks. Verify he or she is who he or she says he/she is.

8. Gut Instinct. Gut instinct is an effective tie-breaker if candidates are deemed equal after considering the combination of the previous seven hiring factors.

 

Question 10: What should be included in a new hire’s onboarding plan, and how long should it take to onboard someone?

Ideally, onboarding can be completed in three to six months, depending on the amount of learning and development required for the position and by a specific individual. The areas to be addressed in an onboarding plan are reflected in the diagram below:

 

 

Some additional onboarding best practices:

1. Excel makes an effective format for creating and executing an onboarding plan, enabling the document to be shared electronically.

2. Create a written onboarding plan for each of the six areas in the diagram. The plan can create a checklist that can be given to each new hire on his or her first day on the job. The new hire’s plan can remain with him or her for the purpose of tracking progress with a copy placed in the employee’s file

3. While there are certain standard areas that every new hire should complete, there are also employee and position-specific objectives that should be included in his/her onboarding plan.

4. The onboarding plan should include a day-by-day schedule for the new hire’s first 30 days on the job. Month two and three should include specific objectives, but remain flexible to fit the candidate’s situation as he or she gets up to speed.

5. The new hire’s supervisor should schedule daily touch-base meetings with the new hire for the first few weeks, eventually tapering off to several per week, and then one per week by the end of 90 days. This is a great way to assess progress and demonstrate a commitment to the new hire’s success.

 

Bottom Line. We’ve presented the answer to ten key questions about how to hire the right salesperson. Employers who implement the suggested strategies and tactics will improve their chances of hiring the right person and onboarding him or her in a way that accelerates the new hire towards becoming a fully productive member of the staff. Here’s a recap of the ten questions to answer:

1. What are the top four mistakes made when hiring salespeople?

2. What is the real cost of making a poor hiring decision?

3. What are the planning essentials you must get right at the start of the hiring process?

4. What are the top job-specific factors that must be considered when hiring?

5. What are the best predictors of success when considering a candidate?

6. What factors must be considered in order to get sales compensation right?

7. Are there different factors to be considered when adding to a sales staff, versus hiring a solo performer?

8. How can I improve my chances of getting the hiring decision RIGHT?

9. What are the top hiring factors to include in a salesperson hiring decision?

10. What should be included in a new hire’s onboarding plan, and how long should it take to onboard someone?

 

Until next time, happy hiring!

The preceding was created from our webinar, Hiring the Right Salesperson, which is part of Boyer Management Group’s B2B Sales Essentials™ program, named a 2016 Top Sales Training Program.

I help job seekers, higher ed, and employment services connect people to better jobs faster. My company’s acclaimed career development tools, the Job Search Readiness Assessment for experienced professionals/skilled workers and Graduate Employment Preparedness Assessment for students/recent grads both assess and explain over 3,000 career and job search best practices. I also work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. To find out more, please visit us at www.boyermanagement.com, email us at info@boyermanagement.com, or call us at 215-942-0982.

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