FIRST and foremost: you hunt and constantly look. They are out there, although scarce; and when they DO start to look, you need to be present and findable.
That means you ought to be running ads 24/7/365. You don’t have to hire everyone. BE selective. Only hire the “HELL YES,” not the maybes. A productive salesperson puts money in your pocket, so they aren’t a risk.
NEXT: Build systems and processes that can make a good salesperson GREAT, so you don’t need to find the rare superstar but can have a very profitable and productive business on good people.
THIRD: Interview well to avoid wasting time and money on duds. To this last point, I recently shared the following list with a Rapid Implementation class that was asking me about how to interview a great salesperson. It’s 10 questions I’ll send to a candidate after reviewing their résumé and determining that, on paper, they look like someone I’d like to interview.
The first interview is always by phone. If I like what I hear, I’ll invite them in for a face-to-face interview. But before I schedule the initial interview call, I’ll have Kathy e-mail them the following questions and ask them to write back. This not only gives me important insights into them, but it also shows me if they are willing to put effort into the application. Many don’t write back. Of those that do, many provide short, incomplete answers filled with typos and incomplete sentences.
It’s also not uncommon for them to answer the question incorrectly, demonstrating they didn’t read the question. If I see any of this, Kathy will let them know they aren’t what we’re looking for, eliminating the need for me to interview them.
- Why are you looking for a new sales position?
Why they are looking is important. Were they fired? Laid off? If employed, why are they unhappy? This is an area you want to dig into more.
- What experience do you have in hunting and closing new accounts?
Modify this question based on what you’re hiring them to do. Example: What experience do you have in setting appointments? In telemarketing? In managing a sales team? I’m looking for someone with more than a *little* experience.
- What are you looking for in your next position? Please be as specific as possible.
Again, this will give you insights into what motivates them, even though that question is asked again below. See if the answer to this question matches up with the one below it.
- What motivates you?
If they are in SALES, you want to hear both that winning motivates them and that they are MONEY- MOTIVATED. The best salespeople directly correlate effort to money, so you want to make sure they ARE motivated by making more money, not just having a comfortable, safe place to work.
- What makes you a GREAT salesperson?
This again will give you insights into how they will sell. If they tell you they are great at follow-up, that may mean they aren’t great at CLOSING the sale. If they say they are good at listening, test them on this in the interview: do they ask YOU key questions, and use your answers to sell you on why you should hire them?
- What are you REALLY excellent at?
I want to hear SELLING. Anything else shows me they are a dud. A good salesperson is good at selling, just like an excellent chef will say they are great at cooking food, an excellent artist at painting, etc.
- What are you NOT good at, or simply don’t like to do?
I want to hear something. Saying they have “no weakness” is a sign they aren’t self-aware or good at self-evaluation. We’re all great at some things and terrible at others. If they say they are terrible at listening, following up, closing sales, etc., beware.
- What sales training have you had?
I want to see SOME kind of training IF they are a professional sales rep. This is forgivable if they are a junior rep or telemarketer. But a seasoned pro? You better have some training under your belt.
- What is/are your favorite go-to book(s) on the topic of sales that is the basis of your approach to selling?
This will be one you’ll stump people on – and that’s a sad state of affairs. If you are hiring someone to bring in new clients, manage your current account or for some position OTHER than a junior role, you want a self-motivated learner.
- What questions will you have for me (Robin Robins, CEO) on our initial phone interview?
NOTE: This question shows me how smart they are. If they have no questions, that’s a bad sign. If their questions are all about paid time off and benefits, again, not a good sign and someone I would immediately eliminate. I want to see questions like “Tell me how you started the business” or “Tell me what you see as the biggest opportunities in your organization.”
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