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Thought For The Day

Sales Person Recruiting Process Step One: Identify

© The Gulas Group 2010

The process of recruiting sales people is like no other process in your organization. Most mistakes are made by relying too much on sales history. Sales history is like the disclaimer on stocks: "Past performance is not necessarily an indicator of future performance." That is why you must implement a systematic recruiting process to fill the most mission-critical positions in your organization.

An organization must do five things to execute a systematic recruiting process and successfully recruit sales superstars.

  1. Identify
  2. Test
  3. Qualify
  4. Search
  5. Interview

These steps are often not executed effectively in most organizations today. The cost in wasted time and resources for this process to be out of control is estimated to be $450,000 for organizations and $150,000 per sales candidate.

Identifying the best sales candidate, the first step, is the foundation and focus area of the five steps. This step in the process can be further divided into four areas as follows:

  1. Compatibility with the way you compensate, manage and go to market.
  2. A close match with your organization's culture.
  3. Inventory the past, present and future flaws and challenges in your recruiting, the ramp up program and subsequent hiring results.
  4. Ensure you understand each candidate's selling strengths, skills and weaknesses.

Area one, reviewing a candidate's compatibility with your organization begins from a structured list of questions preferably delivered via an EEOC- compatible sales candidate assessment before the interview. Questions such as who does the closing: the percentage of time selling "new" versus selling "old": amount of pressure on sales performance: pricing: people the sales person should call: and other specific areas of compatibility must be answered before an interview. Caution is advised if compatibility is less than a 65% match, particularly on the top five issues.

Next on the list of criteria to identify a sales super star is organization culture. The best way to achieve this objective is to benchmark the behavior, values and attributes the position requires. You are essentially asking: "If this sales position could talk what would it say about the values necessary to stay motivated in your organization, what communication styles does the candidate need to bring to the job and what talents or attributes are necessary for superior performance in this particular sales role?" Your organization can then compare the candidate qualities to this baseline and determine how closely the match.

The most difficult part of recruiting for most organizations is conducting an honest self assessment of its flaws, both current and past, plus challenges related to things such as hiring, ramping up, and developing sales potential. The organization needs to create a checklist of issues addressing:

  1. what titles in an organization must they visit,
  2. support sales people will receive,
  3. type of sales whether conceptual or complex,
  4. sales plans,
  5. learning the market,
  6. training during the first 90 days and one of the most critical
  7. accountability.

Once you build a checklist, you must honestly assess what flaws & challenges are below mastery for the organization. Justifying your answer becomes the next column in your checklist. For instance, if training during the first thirty days is not an issue, you need to evaluate why not, if it is an issue, and why it is an issue. Everyone from the CEO to Human Resource professionals and the VP of Sales should complete their checklist individually, then come together as a group, discuss each item, and agree upon results.

The last area to review is ensuring the organization has researched what level of sales experience it required for success. For example, will you need an entry level sales person, some experience, an experienced sales person, senior level, or executive level sales person? Each level of candidate will possess a certain combination of selling strengths, skills and weaknesses. Each candidate will have severity attached to each of their major sales weaknesses indicating that certain combinations may prevent development or may not even be trainable. The best practice to accomplish this objectively is to contract with a company that provides this information for your organization.. This information can then become a road map for a shortened ramp up time, sales development and coaching by your sales leaders after they are hired.

This last criterion in the process naturally leads to the second most important issue you must consider when hiring a sales superstar. The second issue in hiring a sales superstar is to test each candidate via a simple licensing agreement against what the organization identified to be successful. The most successful organizations conduct this testing before they waste time sorting through polished resumes and staged interviews.

In closing, it is crucial to remember this: do not leave any of these four areas within the identifying process to chance. To do so will result in high turnover, a complacent sales team, longer ramp up time, and underperforming recruits.

Ted GulasTed Gulas President & CEO of the Gulas Group, which specializes in the development of "Human Capital", by guiding individuals, teams and organizations to their goals. Since 1989 Ted's organization has been focused in three areas for results; assessments, workload/time planning and sales development. Sign up for our newsletter and get free access to our interactive on line sales development at http://www.gulasgroup or call 800-239-2910.

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