Hiring the Right Salesperson

Perhaps no decision is more important for a sales manager to “get right” then the decision to hire a salesperson. Mistakes are very costly. Here are some suggestions for making your next new-hiring decision one that you will one day congratulate yourself for.

Can you see this candidate, after training and effective coaching, ranking in the top half of your sales team? If not, don’t hire the person.

Each hiring decision you make will have an impact on your team’s culture – and you need the impact to be extremely positive not negative.

Only hire people who are coachable

Identifying “coachable” reps at the hiring level instills a successful improvement-oriented team culture that ensures your coaching efforts will bear lasting fruit. During the interview process look at personality traits such as a rep’s willingness to change, openness to feedback and ideas from others, acceptance of constructive criticism and the motivation to succeed and constantly strive for greater results. Ask the candidate: “What weakness do you need to improve upon in order to get better?”

Only hire thoughtful candidates who have thought things through

If someone hasn’t really thought about what their needs are in their next sales job, how can you expect them to understand – after you hire them – what your customers’ needs are?

How do you determine if someone is thoughtful? Simply ask them: “What criteria are you considering important in selecting your next sales opportunity?” The depth of thinking they reveal in their answer reveals how much thought they have put in to their next career move.

Set the future date in your own calendar that you will make a 2nd hiring decision – one to either retain or de-hire your new rep.

Maybe this date is 90-days after you hire somebody, maybe it is six months.

Having a 2nd hiring date in your mind will help you focus on observing how your new salesperson is progressing. All too often, a sales manager is distracted by helping close the big deals in the pipeline, and understandably so. But your most senior-tenured reps are the ones who are typically working the larger deals. And this can distract you from carefully observing the skill and will and development of your new-hire.

Making a bad hiring decision is something every experienced manager has made. If your mistake costs you three month’s time, that’s not good. If you don’t realize you made a hiring mistake for 12-18 months – that damage can be catastrophic.

Happy New Year!

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Kevin Davis

Kevin F. Davis is the author of The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness”, which was named the 2018 Axiom Business Book Award Winner, Silver Medal. Kevin is also the author of Slow Down, Sell Faster!”.