In last week’s blog posting, Improve Your Sales Hiring Success Rate: One Method That Can Help, we discussed how creating a standardized sales hiring template will boost sales productivity and increase your sales hiring success rate. The following is an example of a statistical interviewing template that I would use for a hypothetical consultative sales business. The template describes my 6 desired sales traits, with weightings, and my 3 sample questions per trait. Your desired traits and test questions will differ based on your offers, market, and culture.
1. Intellectual Curiosity (25%) - I need someone who will do more than the research required to differentiate themselves and ask the appropriate questions of a prospect. More importantly, I want them to be smart, listen well, have follow-up questions, and add-value in every sales discussion. I also want them to take the time to research things they don’t know and show evidence of being a life-long learner.
2. Tenacity (20%) - It takes, on average, seven attempts to get an executive prospect to listen to your value-proposition. The average salesperson stops at four attempts. I want someone who will make the seven attempts without being annoying and tarnishing the brand. They must be equally tenacious securing internal resources helping to win deals.
3. Creativity (20%) - I want creative thinkers who can invent and apply new ideas and concepts in all selling environments-- from prospecting through contract negotiation. What is their networking strategy- can they think of innovative ways to meet hard to reach prospects? Can they initiate contact with a prospect for the 7’th time without being a pest and by adding some new information of value? What new ideas, concepts, or resources would they introduce during the buying cycle to tip the buying decision in our favor?
4. Financial Ambition (15%) - Ultimately, my new salesperson’s life goals need to have a large financial component to keep them self-motivated. This will save a great deal of my sales management time and effort. I might assign a greater weight to this trait in a less consultative, more transactional sale.
5. Social Nature (10%) - I need personality types who enjoy being around people and can show empathy and understanding for the life and career goals of others. Successful teaming in past life, work, and in sport settings is a good indicator of future success in my sales model.
6. Competitive Spirit (10%) - Very simply, I want bad losers but not those who are afraid to fail. It’s essential my sales team knows when they are winning and when they are losing and why. They must be able to act aggressively when there is nothing to lose. They must also demonstrate that they can readily rebound from a loss and be willing to help the organization learn from it.
Candidate Total: ________
Other candidate impressions and observations: __________________________________________________________________
Sales roles are too strategic and expensive to be staffed subjectively. Use a team approach to build your template traits to avoid hiring people only in your own likeness. Consider including the traits of your best performers. If you would like to discuss the template in more detail, please contact me.
Mike Peters is the managing director of the Whitespace Consulting Group, a global business development strategy firm. The Whitespace Consulting Group has been helping multi-cultural clients optimize their business development strategy since 2005. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.