I spent some time with a sales manager last week talking about sales recruiting. It prompted me to write a blog post on sales recruiting best practices.
The sales manager I was talking to was looking to fill a sales role on her team. She had four candidates and they were all about the same in terms of skills, tenure and experience. She was struggling with a way to make a decision.
The conversation immediately reminded of some best practices I’ve seen work very well. I asked the sales manager a few questions:
- Do you have a scorecard to measure their relative acumen?
- Did multiple folks interview them from your team?
- Did you put a “sales pitch” in place as hiring criteria?
To answer these questions, here are a set of best practices you can put into action in your recruiting efforts.
Establish a baseline sales profile to inform your sales recruiting criteria. Use the profile to create a sales recruiting scorecard. Make the scorecard available to the candidates and the interviewing team. Be transparent. Here are the criteria the sales manager and I created that mapped to their go to market and sales process:
- Domain knowledge
- Success selling technology
- Quota accomplishments
- Customer references
- Peer references
- Presentation skills
- People skills
- Social selling acumen
- Financial and business acumen
- Sales pitch
Having a scorecard with a consisting scoring methodology goes a long way to create alignment around hiring expectations and candidate fit.
The Sales Pitch
One of the most important parts of a sales person’s job is to be able to professionally deliver a pitch presentation. Their ability to grab the attention of a room and keep an audience engaged in a presentation is a skill. It can be taught, but why not use the sales pitch as a hiring criteria?
I’ve seen this work very well at Salesforce.com and many other companies.
Here is how I would do it:
- Set the expectation that your candidate will deliver a short presentation to a group of peers and the hiring manager
- Give them a short template presentation and a mini-case study
- Watch how they customize the presentation.
- See if they are comfortable with a meeting agenda and the meeting close.
- Gage whether they ask questions and are good listeners.
There is so much you can learn about a candidate from a 15-minute presentation. I encourage you, if you don’t already, to include it in your hiring process.
Hiring is a Team Sport
A great best practice I witnessed was making hiring a team sport. Have multiple members of a sales team interview a prospective new sales candidate. Give everyone a team a role in the hiring process and an area to go deep and investigate.
There are some great tips leading sales managers have instituted with the team to help vet candidates:
- Interview at different times of the day
- Interview during a meal
- Have a set of questions distributed across the team
Consider all these new ideas in the context of improving your hiring process and making your recruiting experience a learning one for the entire team too.
This blog post is an excerpt from a chapter in my upcoming book “SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed.”