Want Top Producing Salespeople, Fine Tune Your Hiring Process

There are three letters all owners and managers should etch in their brains anytime a decision is made to hire a new employee. The three letters are TEC, which stand for Talent, Experience and Chemistry.

The highest odds of success when hiring a new employee is to make sure the individuals you hire possesses these three characteristics: the raw Talent to do the job, the Experience gained from having performed a similar job before and having performed it well and the right Chemistry to fit into the organization.

Now for a critical question: For the second highest odds of success, which characteristic would you eliminate: Talent, Experience or Chemistry?

The answer, of course, is Experience. Why experience? There is one obvious reason: because experience is all you can teach. Talent and Chemistry are innate or inborn.

To test your resolve with regard to Talent and Chemistry, ask yourself this question: what has been your track record at changing people? I believe most owners and managers would agree that changing people is next to impossible.

Yet many owners and managers are most likely to think about experience first, not last. They are looking first for a salesperson who already possesses product knowledge and hopefully someone who can bring a book of business to the job.

Because so often when I interview salespeople I learn that they have worked for two or three of my competitors, it’s easy to get the impression that a lot of local owners and managers in my industry are recycling each other’s rejects. Could this be true of your industry, as well?

As many of my readers know, I majored in psychology and have administered and interpreted tens of thousands of psychological assessments ever since I entered the business world. If there’s anything I have a lot of confidence in it’s the psychological test scores that produce the highest odds of sales success. Testing sales candidates is just too inexpensive not to take advantage of this insight into a person’s observable characteristics.

Which is more difficult, to teach a new salesperson how to sell or to teach a new salesperson the product knowledge to service a contractor customer? My experience has taught me that it’s a lot harder to teach a new salesperson how to sell.

There are no shortcuts to hiring. Managers who have the best track record for hiring winners go through the steps one at a time. Here are the steps as I see them:

1. Conduct a short prepared interview over the telephone to determine if you want to take the interview process to the next step.

2. Administer a 15-minute psychological test to the candidate online to determine if he/she has the right stuff to get to the next step.

3. Conduct a one to two-hour interview with the candidate(s) asking each candidate the same in-depth open-ended questions. Note: this interview may be delegated if the interview is recorded.

4. Check references. Avoid HR departments when checking references. Try to find individuals who used to work with the candidate and are no longer with the candidate’s current company. This is easier to do than you might think.

5. Take the candidate(s) to lunch or dinner to observe how the candidates conduct themselves. This is an important step.

6. Now it’s time to either make an offer or pass on the candidate.

Avoid the hiring pitfalls:

1. Stop selling until you’re read to buy. Don’t spend all of your interviewing time trying to sell the candidate on the merits of your company. It’s only when you ask good open-ended questions that you begin to gain insight.

2. Hiring the best of the bunch. If the first bunch of candidates doesn’t produce a candidate with the right stuff, get yourself a new bunch.

3. Remind yourself how difficult it is to change people. If a salesperson has been selling for five to ten years and is still struggling to make a decent living, what are the odds he/she can achieve above average sales working for your company?

In his book, The Real Business 101: Lessons from the Trenches, Jim Sobeck offers three chapters on the hiring process. I highly recommend reading these chapters. http://www.amazon.com

Hire Talent, Experience and Chemistry for the highest odds of hiring success.

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