Implement This Proven 7-Step Process to Hire Sales Winners Over 90% of the Time

Friday, 5 December 2008  |  Tuck Mixon

By Tuck Mixon

Hiring top sales people is tough. Because the chance of hiring a top, "A" player sales rep is less than 25%, many companies keep their marginal, "C" player reps.  These weak sales people cannot win the customers you really want; if your company keeps its weak salespeople, those C players likely cost you millions in lost sales and tons of aggravation.

If you cannot consistently hire top sales people that are a fit for your company, you also suffer from high sales person turnover.  And according to the Wall Street Journal, this turnover costs $150,000 per sales person on average. Here is the good news: you can fix these problems when you implement a proven process for hiring top sales people. 

Here is a proven 7-step process for hiring top sales people:

  1. Determine Your Ideal Salesperson Criteria. What skills, habits, strengths, and motivations do you need? What do top salespeople who sell to your ideal customers actually do?
  2. Attract Top Salespeople. The major online job sites are a good place to start. Write an ad that describes the top salesperson, their experiences and their accomplishments; you want top salespeople to say "that's me". For example, "You must have successfully sold services like ____... to people like____. You have earned at least _____. You are good at ___, ____, and _____. You're looking for a company that ___, ___, and ___."
  3. Assess All Candidates. Let the assessment perform the first screen. Don't even look at the resumes of NOT HIRABLE candidates. A good assessment not only saves time, but also delivers more hirable candidates! A proven assessment is critical to getting 90% or more of your sales hires to be top salespeople.   See the criteria for selecting an assessment.
  4. Qualify and Challenge.  By phone, conduct a tough, very brief interview to further qualify hirable candidates.
  5. Interview.  Like the qualify step, this longer, preferably in-person interview needs to challenge the candidate to confirm they are truly qualified and a fit for your company. Include at least two people in this step to minimize personal bias, and make sure they develop the skills to interview effectively.
  6. Persuade and Offer. Now you go from being purposely tough like a prospect to being a top salesperson. You need to sell your preferred candidate on their vital role, on its rewards, on the company, and on the company's leadership.
  7. Onboard. You need a comprehensive plan for your new salesperson's first 90 days. Go beyond product training and orientation and use a Fast Start plan that includes goal setting, sales training, coaching, accountability and other actions. A good 90-day training plan can improve your success rate with your new "top" salespeople from over 90% to near 100%.

Assess Before The Interview

If you read the proven seven-step process closely, you noticed that the assessment occurs before the interview . You may be thinking this process would be too expensive or would not get you enough candidates. Fortunately, assessing before interviewing is actually less expensive, you can get up to 50% more qualified candidates, and you are EEOC compliant. See the criteria for selecting an assessment.

Criteria for Selecting an Assessment

This proven salesperson hiring process solves the problems of the typical process, and it depends on a good assessment to screen candidates. Here are some criteria for selecting an assessment:

  • Accurate. The assessment needs to be accurate and its validity needs to have been verified or you will lose good candidates, waste time and possibly hire a bad candidate. Look for an executional assessment or profile that answers the question: WILL this sales candidate sell our product or service successfully to our prospects? Beware of sales ability tests, intelligence tests or personality profiles. They are not accurate tools for screening sales candidates before the interview.
  • Hirable / Not Hirable Recommendation so you only interview Hirable sales candidates
  • Customizable.  The assessment should enable you to include each sales position's specific requirements and any conditions for hiring.
  • Flexible. The assessment should adjust to the complexity of the sales position.
  • Rankable. So you can rank candidates and hire the best.
  • Includes interview tips to discover potential issues.
  • Identifies weaknesses. So you know specific training needs and the potential issues to expect if you hire them.
  • Affordable. Because you will screen every applicant, and you may have 10 or even 100 applicants per sales position, your finance people may choke at the thought of paying on a per assessment basis. Look for an assessment that charges you on a per salesperson hired basis so you can screen an unlimited number of applicants per sales position.

In Part One ( Frustrated With Sales Hiring Results? Why Your Salesperson Hiring Process is Part of the Problem) of this Two Part series, we looked at why hiring effective salespeople is important and why the typical sales person hiring process produces poor results. In this article (Part Two) we looked at a proven seven-step process for hiring top salespeople

Stop Hiring Sales Duds - Act Now

If you do not have a consistent sales hiring process that gets you top sales people, your business is suffering. Your weaker sales people lose to better salespeople. You have to discount to win. You have trouble getting the bigger, better, more profitable customers. Your business is not growing like you know it should.

How do I know? I've been there. I've been through the frustration and the aggravation that the wrong sales hires cause. I've lost business I know we should have won.

The good news is this: we do not have to wonder whether a sales candidate will sell for us. We can know if a sales candidate WILL SELL for us or not. We can attract and hire top sales people consistently, and we can help them be successful quickly. We can survive a tough economy; in fact, with top salespeople, we can gain market share and thrive.

Imagine your company with top sales people. You now win the bigger, better, more profitable customers. You are not only surviving, you are thriving. If you like this picture for your business, find out how to implement a proven sales hiring process in your business. You have options:

1. Go to Hiring Sales People to learn more. There, you can request our special report, How to Hire Top Salespeople.

2. Calclate the Cost of your Sales Hiring mistakes using our Free Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator.

About the Author 

Tuck Mixon runs Trinity Marketing Systems. Tuck works with CEOs, VPs, and business owners, and his mission is to deliver 10 to 100 times the value his clients invest.

Blog Headlines: