Hiring Salespeople

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Hiring salespeople who #will# sell has always been the biggest challenge for companies. Any resume can look good, and anyone can put on a suit and look good. Still, most companies spend too much time and money hiring the wrong salespeople and then take six to 12 months to realize their mistake. To re-start the hiring process and on-boarding process (training in product/services, skills, policy, etc) can cost thousands of dollars, not to mention the lost opportunity dollars. In his book Top Grading, Dr. Bradford Smart states that national statistics show that the current cost of hiring a mistake is more than $800,000 for an individual in the $50,000 to $100,000 salary range.

What to look for when you are hiring a sales person

Most managers look for people who are honest, ethical, ambitious and who present a good appearance. But today#s salesperson also is required to be able to quickly establish credibility; have persistence in the process; be a good listener and problem solver and be a goal setter with stretch goals. These are more difficult to judge as these traits grow out of the individual#s desire and commitment to succeed. People can tell us they want to succeed, but do their internal actions support what they say, do they know what it will take to succeed? This is often still a guess at best.

So what can we do?

You can develop a more complete understanding and definition of what it will take to become a successful salesperson in your organization. Companies generally have a job description that defines the duties, responsibilities, experience/skills sets required and compensation, but they fall short in identifying the behaviors and attitudes required for that same success. They don”t define the person they are looking for, merely the position. Since you hire people, expand your job description to include the #must haves# in attitudes and behaviors. Then develop a series of questions that will help you get at those traits. Behavioral experts are able to assist in determining an individual”s desire, drive and commitment. Consider adding an assessment tool (there are many available today, mostly online) to your interviewing process. Another technique that helps provide more credible information is cross-interviewing using pre-defined (and similar) questions, since comparing answers helps establish traits like credibility and listening skills. Since you know the cost of your mistakes, it”s worth your time to revisit your hiring process and make sure it”s bullet proof.

For additional information on this subject or any sales person/process question, please contact Chuck Scheibe, president of Georgia Sales Development Inc. at