It is getting harder and harder hiring killer sales people. More and more people are ‘interview savvy’, and the star you think you’ve just hired turns out to be a nightmare!
Hiring poor salespeople costs time and money and can turn into a never ending repeat process of hiring poor quality sales people, until you simply accept and make do with the best of a bad bunch.
Never make do when it comes to hiring sales people, and you no longer have to. Here I’m going to explain how I’ve hire killer salespeople!
Set high expectations!
First off, you have to set you expectations high… very high!
You are looking for the killer salesperson that will really give your business or team a huge revenue boost. Get the type of person you want in mind, and ensure you constantly focus your actions on achieving the hire of this person. If your first few candidates aren’t up to scratch, don’t panic and don’t reduce your expectations. Keep going and believe your killer hire is just around the corner.
The job ad
Make sure you put the highest possible amount you expect a top performer to earn in your organisation. It always surprises me that many companies advertise their sales roles with (low) from and to salary amounts, yet when you ask them if they’d be happy with their sales earning the from number they answer ‘of course not!’…… Then why display this in your ads!!
You want to attract the sales professionals who are looking to earn the highest possible salary, and believe they can.
Here’a an example of one of my ads……
‘KILLER SALESPEOPLE – TOP ACHIEVERS ONLY £100k
Only want to speak to the best with a proven history of sales success. Join our progressive company and take your earnings through the roof, our top earners are earning over £100k and we want more of the same. If you are the best, you should be calling us on…….’
This kind of ad doesn’t have a requirement for a CV or request too much specific experience, it just demands the best sales people. There’s no fluff and the reader will fully understand that you are looking for the best. Average salespeople know if they are average salespeople, and most won’t waste yours or their own time. Your ad tells them clearly you are looking for the best and they will expect some tough questions at interview stage.
Personality profiling is key to finding your killer sales person, and there are many companies out there that can provide assessments to help you.
One of the best is the DISC personality profile, which stands for dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance. The assessment uses word association to measure the intensity of each characteristic in the candidate being assessed.
When your looking for a killer sales person, you want someone with a strong ego and the dominance part of this assessment will help. Someone that can control situations, has a strong belief in themselves and their success, able to assert themselves and has a good level of personal power.
Ultimately individuals with a strong ego tend to have a great drive and desire for success and therefore close as many sales as possible, whilst not taking repeated (and sometimes harsh) rejection personally. This drive and ambition means that high dominance people are decisive in taking action and making decisions. They like challenges, bonding with others, being in control and don’t like a lack of action.
Influence has to do with how people interact socially with others and how well they communicate. Your killer sales person will be a high influence person who are persuasive, good communicators and interacts well with others.
Whilst the other two (steadiness and compliance) are important characteristics, dominance and influence are the two areas you need to focus on for your killer salesperson. Your killer salesperson will have high dominance and high influence characteristics. This type of person may come across a little eager at interview, but don’t let this put you off. You need a confident, aggressive and forceful person if you want killer salespeople in your team!
Age and backgrounds are not relevant
It doesn’t matter if the applicant is 18 or 52, it’s all about their personal characteristics. As said before you are looking for high dominance and high influence, so focus on these. I’ve worked with people from a range of backgrounds and ages, there are killer salespeople everywhere so don’t unnecessarily reduce your applicant pool.
Prescreening – Quick way to get rid of the mediocre
It is essential that you hold prescreening interviews with your applicants, mine last anywhere between 3 and 10 minutes. 3 minutes I hear you asking? yes 3 minutes!
I don’t want to waste too much of my time interviewing the wrong type of people, so immediately from the get go of the prescreening interview I say to the candidates ‘As you saw from my advertisement, I’m only looking for the best salespeople….. So tell me why you think we should interview you?’
Straight away I’m testing the candidates ego and demanding a personal response from them. Some people will start going into a short spiel about how they’ve always worked in sales and enjoy working with people etc, and I will respond by telling them that I’m not hearing that they are the best from their answer.
This early rejection is intentional. The majority of the candidates I have interviewed simply accept my assessment and the interview is over, it’s ridiculous and I don’t want these people.
I want the high ego individuals who will stand up to me and question why or start fighting their own corner. High ego people are not able to accept your assessment of them that they are not up to it, and will immediately work through responses to prove to you that you are wrong.
Some may even become a little aggressive, but this isn’t a bad thing. You want a fighter, someone that will not take rejection and do everything they can to be successful. They will start trying to close you, asking you questions, fact finding…… All the things you would want your salesperson to do when they encounter rejection with a customer.
This technique will tell you within 2 minutes whether the candidate can fight when they encounter rejection, or give up and move away.
Once you are happy with the resolve of the candidate and want to move them on to the next stage, you can invite them for a face to face interview. You may need to provide them with further information regarding the role and company, but try to be as brief as possible whilst giving enough information to wet their appetite.
The face to face interview
Its important that you start off showing your better side after showing your harsh side during the prescreening call. You want to see the best side of the candidate so it’s important that you allow them to relax properly.
Be open that you judge candidates based on personality profiles and ask tell them you’d like to get a better understanding of their characteristics and what shaped them, and want to know more about their childhood and upbringing. You’re asking this as you are looking for a natural bonder, someone that is comfortable and open about their life. If they appear uncomfortable and closed, you don’t have your killer salesperson.
Now you need to start focusing on their sales experience and should ask candidates to tell you about the most difficult sale they’ve ever made, making sure they detail every step, objection and how these were overcome. Question anything that sounds odd and praise when you are impressed.
Next you want to assess their achievement. Ask for an example of when things were stacked up against the candidate and they overcame things to achieve, what they are most proud of, and get them to describe the successful version of themselves. Here you gauge how motivated they really are and what levels they really want to achieve. Watch out for people that are only looking for average success, you want individuals that have the craving to be the best!
Testing the empathy of candidates is easy and can be done by asking them how someone they are close to describes them. You’re looking for someone who is willing to give more than a simple one sentence answer. People with high empathy are able to talk openly and freely to this type of question.
To test the ego of candidates you should ask themselves to rate themselves out of ten for confidence, sales ability, closing skills, objection handling, presentation skills and ability to face rejection. High ego candidates will mark themselves high for everything and you should be asking for reasons why they think this with examples. Killer salespeople will be able to provide answers quickly and clearly.
Next you want to ask the candidate who is the best salesperson they’ve ever worked with. If they say they are the best…. Hire them immediately! If they name someone else ask them how they are different to this person, which will force them to self evaluate and for you to assess this. Killer salespeople are always looking for self improvement, so look out for examples and statements around this. Ask them what they read and listen to.
At this point you can go through the CV with them, gathering details of past jobs, reasons for leaving, etc. You need to probe to ensure you get the full picture of all past jobs, but ensure you do so in a non confrontation or judgmental way. You want the candidate to talk freely, if they feel you are negatively judging them they can close off.
You’re now at the back end of the interview and its time to go back on the attack.
Tell them ‘Look it’s been a pleasure speaking to you but I have to be honest that I only have one position available, and I really need a killer salesperson. This is a tough industry and whilst you seem like a really nice person, I’m just not feeling that you are the killer salesperson I need.’ You must be direct with this and leave the candidate with the understanding that you are rejecting them.
At this point of the interview the candidate will be mentally drained and you’d be amazed at the number of people that crumble at this point, some of these are the people who have done well throughout the interview and I was starting to think they could do well for me. If they crumble let them go, they are not you killer salesperson. Killer salespeople never crumble. You’re looking for the candidates to stand up for themselves and tell you they are the person you are looking for.
Hire the candidates that have communicated well, handled your objections and rejections masterfully, and have the dominance and influence required to be a killer salesperson.