Transcript: Hi, I’m Anna Talerico with Married2Growth. Let’s talk about how to find modern, high performing sales reps.
One way to do this is to hire sales reps the same way your buyers buy. This is especially important if you have had more than your fair share of hiring mistakes.
When we think about the stages of a recruiting process, we all probably think of starting with the Resume/online screen, then a phone screen, followed by an in-person interview, then the 2nd round of in-person interviews, and an offer letter, reference checks, offer acceptance, and new employee onboarding. While this works for some roles, it does fall short in terms of finding the best sales talent.
So, I like to interview reps the same way my buyers will get to know them. Here’s an example – just an example – of what this can look like. Modify it to work for you.
First, Reach out via email to set up the phone screen time. How responsive are they? Some candidates won’t/don’t respond during their work day, which is respectful. But, they should respond that evening, or early the next morning. Weed out candidates who are slow to respond.
Next, Have some email exchanges with them before the phone screen. Are they responsive and professional? Are their emails grammatically correct? Many of your buyers will first interact with your sales reps via email so candidates need to be exceptional at this. Weed out those who don’t articulate ideas well in writing, aren’t professional or have grammar/punctuation/typo challenges.
Now, Set the phone screen time and have them call you. Do they call promptly at the appointed time? How do they handle those first 10-15 seconds? Do they confidently introduce themselves? Do they quickly build rapport? Weed them out if they can’t kick off your call in a confident way.
Call them at some point after the phone screen. Do they answer professionally? Or if you leave a voicemail do they call you back promptly? Go a step further and shoot them a text. How do they handle that interaction? Your buyers will be having mobile calls and texts with your sales reps, even in an enterprise environment.
If everything is going well it’s time to bring them in for an in-person. But before you do, ask them to prepare a 5-minute presentation on any topic of their choice and have them present it to you in a web-based meeting. Do they fumble through the web-based presentation or are they fluent and skilled? Do they have a compelling presentation style? Do they drone on and on, or do they respect the 5-minutes? Do they ask you questions along the way and engage you? Your sales reps need to be fantastic at web-based presentations, so test their chops before you meet them in person. After all, this is how your buyers will interact with them.
If they rocked the online presentation, now you are ready to bring them in for an in-person. Ask the tough questions. Look for chemistry and rapport building, practical knowledge of the sales cycle, relevant experience and professionalism. Test for skills with situational questions. And look for a follow up from them within 24-hours.
If the first interview went well, consider one more thing. Have they asked you a ton of questions so far? Have they been inquisitive, curious and intellectually engaged? Do they ask about your buyer, your sales cycle, your average contract value, your common objections, why you lose deals, your sales culture and your competitive landscape? If not, weed them out. This is tough, but necessary. If they haven’t been asking you smart questions along the way, they won’t be asking them of your prospects either.
If your candidate has passed everything with soaring colors, they are probably going to be a great sales rep for you, But you can ask them to do one more thing: prepare a 20-minute presentation on your company or product to see how well they have synthesized your content and message so far. I really like having candidates do this and I find it to be very illuminating. Because they haven’t gone through training and onboarding, you aren’t looking for them to nail your messaging and your talking points, you are looking for them to show you that they “get it”.
And if you want one more hoop, Ask your candidate to close the deal. Ask them “Why should I hire you? Make a compelling case for me.” You may have already asked them this during the actual interview. But do it again. And this time, look for them to not pitch you. When a buyer asks them at the end of the sales cycle to pitch them on why they should buy, a rep shouldn’t launch into a pitch. A rep should “resist the urge to pitch” and draw on everything they have learned thus far to entice the buyer into pitching for the rep. You want a candidate to do the same for you.
If you approach recruiting this way you will find it to be very rigorous and very effective. Pick and choose the elements that work best for you, and always make it pleasant for the recruit. You want to start the relationship out with mutual respect and admiration. More than anything, think of this approach as trying to keep the gate open for them, versus trying to close it on them. That will help you bring the right tone and energy into to the process. PAUSE Good luck! Let me know how it works for you.