Top Tips for Hiring Great Sales People

Sales managers, have you ever found yourself hiring a top seller from another company, only to find they cant replicate the predicted results for you?

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of sales management training is learning to tell a real top seller from a candidate that is just going to disappoint in reality. I always like to start by asking the candidate who their biggest 5 clients are. There are a few great questions that you can ask at the interview that will help:

Which of those accounts did you acquire as new business and which ones did you inherit?

Where did you get the leads for those clients?

Who else was involved in closing those deals and what did they do with you?

So, why are these questions key? Over the years I have profiled certain types of top seller that just don’t deliver. Even though the figures they quote at interview can be verified by reference they just cant replicate it and here is why:

The Silver Spoon. In the interview this candidate is going to be happy to quote you big figures that they achieved in their previous role, when you check it up at reference it is going to be confirmed that they made that amount from their territory. What no one is going to tell you, unless you ask, is that they inherited an amazing territory. They didn’t generate 500k in new business, that all came from warm calls to accounts that their predecessor established. This candidate will be a competent account manager, but unless someone else has already done the hard yards then they are not going to be a top seller for you. You will soon find them out when you learn that their top clients were inherited.

The Percentage Man. Again, this candidate sounds great at interview and the numbers stack up. They did make the 500k out of their territory in their last role, what they don’t mention is that their sales manager would have expected 5 times that from the territory they run. Actually, they have only delivered a percentage of what you should expect from them. These candidates, like the silver spoon candidate don’t like to make cold calls so have relied on referrals and company generated leads. If your second question, where did those leads come from, brings up a lot of referrals and company leads then you may be talking to the percentage man.

The Wing Man. The wing man can find leads, there is no doubt of that. They found lots of leads in their last job that their sales manager had to close. Then, after winning the business, the sales manager handed them back the account to run. They got the credit and their client list sounds great, but unless you are ready to close for them too they aren’t going to deliver the same results for you. Listen carefully to who else was involved in the sales process for their top 5 clients, if their sales manager went along on many of the calls then you are probably talking to a wing man rather than a top seller.