If you are about the embark on a critical sales hiring project it will make sense to check your preparedness and approach. Sales hiring can quickly turn into a search for holy grail candidates who have something on offer to please everyone during the hiring process, but cannot do the job. Here are some questions (pdf version) to ask yourself that will help you avoid common sales hiring mistakes.

Employer Proposition: You have a – critical – role to fill but why is it in the interest of the right candidate to leave a successful role to work for you?

The Sales Role First, the Person Second: What are the small number of critical, high-level responsibilities of the sales role, described in clear language e.g. is this a pure Hunter sales role? ? If it is, say what it is, rather than dress up the role and appeal to the wrong audience.

The Ideal Candidate is not Superhuman: What are the top 3-4 candidate profile criteria needed to perform this role? Avoid “piling on” wish-list, random criteria for candidates in an effort to cover all angles with a “holy grail” candidate profile.

The Package Needs to Match the Difficulty of the Role: You compete for talent in a very competitive world. If your package doesn’t match the difficulty of the role, you can only expect to attract people who are not up to the role.

Interviewing: The main interviewer should be the direct manager or team lead of the new sales hire. Don’t load interview panels with wildcard interviewers who have a minimal or no stake in the person’s success.

The Really Important Interview Questioning Tracks:

  • What audiences has the salesperson sold to?
  • What evidence of sales results / track record?
  • What evidence of key selling skills?
  • Ability to handle a specific selling situation.

Use Culture Fit Selection Wisely or Lose the Best-Fit Candidates:

Undefined culture-fit is the most common, easiest and unfairest way to dismiss perfectly good quality candidates. If you are going to use culture-fit to truly filter a salesperson, it needs it be defined and commonly understood across the selection group, which it often isn’t.

The Final Selection Question is One You Need to Ask Yourself. Most salespeople are ultimately hired on “soft” issues, such as drive, initiative, energy, influence. This is a judgement you have to make and stand over. Here is the critical and final selection question to ask yourself:

Working with me, is this the person who’s most likely to be successful?

Download Sales Hiring Checklist

The Handbook of High Performance Sales Management (Out June 2020) – Book Your Complimentary Copy