The hiring process can be challenging, but it’s especially tricky when you’re looking to expand your sales team. After all, your salespeople have a direct impact on your business’ bottom line, so your decision should not be taken lightly. Hiring a new employee is an investment in their potential and, as the leader of your company, it’s up to you to determine the best fit for your needs.
As someone who has grown my sales team over the years, here are some of my own hiring techniques that have helped me build a team that is both reliable and effective.
Crafting the ideal job ad
Job advertisements serve the same purpose as commercial ad: to sell something (your open position) to somebody (the right applicant). Therefore, you should be putting as much consideration into job postings as you do for your other ads and marketing materials. Plan to post the ad weekly until you fill the position to maximize visibility.
There are a few things that you must include:
• An attention-grabbing title
• An intro paragraph that summarizes the main points of the position
• Your company name
• The job location
• Required and/or preferred qualifications
I also like to include a statement at the end that requests applicants to include an open-ended response about why they are the perfect candidate. Once the applications start rolling in, this part helps to weed out the unqualified applicants and leaves only the most competitive candidates to choose from.
Include a personality test
Part of our recruitment process asks candidates to take a few standardized personality tests prior to any interviews. The responses to these tests can provide valuable indicators that point to the best candidates, but it’s important to understand that they are not foolproof. No personality type or quality is superior to any other, but there are certain roles and responsibilities that are better suited based on characteristics.
For sales roles, it’s been said that ENFP and ENFJ types are naturally inclined to have the empathetic listening skills that make a great salesperson, but that’s not to say you should discount anyone who doesn’t fit into those categories. Personality tests are simply for guidance, but should not be the decision-maker.
Strategize your interview process
Once you have a shortlist of candidates, it’s time to schedule interviews. You should be preparing just as much as your applicants. This decision is arguably more impactful for you. An interview is nothing without the right questions, so select your targeted questions in advance.
I particularly like to ask candidates how they prepared for the interview. Although a simple question, their answer can speak volumes. Some may detail how they had a big breakfast, researched the company, and carefully selected their best outfit, while others may not have an answer on the spot. This can tell you a lot about how they deal with pressure when they get unexpected questions. If they’ve done their homework, then it shows that they value your time and are serious about your company.
I also like to include a role-playing activity to assess a candidate’s potential in action. Our employees fill in as unsatisfied clients and it’s up to the interviewee to handle the situation as they see fit. They don’t come into the interview knowing about this because it’s important for me to see how they react on the spot. After all, unexpected situations happen all the time so I want to assess how they are on their toes. At the same time, role-playing provides the candidate a taste of the company experience and lets them decide if they’re up for the responsibilities.
When it all boils down, your next employee should be one that is committed to your brand and ready to make your company look good. Resumes and cover letters are great, but in the world of sales, I’d rather have somebody who performs well in person rather than on paper.