Here are five telltale signs that you’ve got a top performer.
#1: They have a history of being a top performer, ranking 1st or 2nd for sales in their organization, and they’ve done that in every job.
I want someone who’s been in sales for their life, not somebody who is in sales for a little bit like worked in retail, then took a job as an operations person, then was in inside sales. You know, I want someone who’s been in sales. And they’ve been a top performer.
One of my interview questions is how many other sales reps were there in the organization? They say 5. Did they rank you? They usually say no, although they probably did, right? So, I ask, well, if they were to rank you, where would you rank? Were you always #1 in sales, or were you #2? #4? Where were you? Now they might say, “I was between #1 and #3. It floated.”
And the question is, why weren’t you always number one? And see what they say, and it’ll tell you a lot about whether they blame their circumstances, blame their territory, blame their boss. Now, sometimes that is legit, and that’s the part where you’ve got to go a little bit deeper. But I want to see consistent sales performance.
# 2: They were successful in a similar type of sales role, and they sold to similar clients.
I have found that it’s tough for someone in retail to come in and start booking appointments because someone who’s worked in a car dealership has an entirely different experience than on the phone. So, they typically don’t work out because it’s a different sales environment.
So for you guys, you want to see that they were maybe talking to CEOs. They were selling to your type of customer, even if it wasn’t the same product. If they were selling to a similar customer, what’s most important is the customer and the type of sale. So, I want to see that.
#3: I want to see they have a long tenure in a role.
I do not want to see someone job-hopping every one or two years. Now for an appointment setter, you’re going to see more of it because it’s more of an entry-level role. And so, I’m a little more forgiving. But if you are trying to hire a top salesperson, you don’t want to see them every year, 2 years, or every few months switching jobs. I mean, that’s not a good sign. And if I even see that on a resume, I don’t even interview them. Like, I don’t even bother because I don’t want to see someone who’s jumping around all the time.
#4: They have a history of career advancement.
So, I recommend top grading. Give them a career history form, and then you ask them to detail out every job. What was their starting salary? What was their ending salary? And again, I don’t know if this is legal in your state. It is legal in Tennessee, where we are, and they fill it out.
And what I look for is I want to see someone who is consistently earning more at every job because that shows that they are advancing. If they are flat and they’ve earned about the same amount of money for the last 10 years, do you know what that tells you? Their internal temperature of how much money they make is set at that amount. We all have an internal thermostat. If things cool off, meaning you start making less money, man, you kick into high gear. I got to do marketing. I got to make sales. I got to do something. It’s just like the heaters kick on, and it brings you back up.
But it works the same way in the other direction. The air conditioning kicks in when things get too good and cools you back down. And so, all of us have this internal thermostat set to saying, here’s how much money I think I’m worth, and here’s how much money I feel comfortable making. And you want to see a salesperson who’s constantly earning up, not just flat.
Now again, an appointment setter, it’s a little more forgiving. But if you’re looking for an account manager, someone who will be a hunter/closer, I want to see the consistent upward potential.
#5: Their previous boss or managers confirms that they were a top performer.
I’m telling you this has saved me from more misery than I can tell you. I recently had someone that I almost hired. They were referred to me, went through all the interviews, I asked to talk with their previous bosses, and they said no problem. Which is a good sign do I didn’t see any issues. I was like, “Wow, this is great.” I’m literally on the phone in a Zoom meeting, going over the compensation plan about to make this person an offer.
That’s how far we were. We had a background check, drug test, the whole nine yards. But then, on my second monitor, a Slack message popped up from Mike. For Mike saying, “Whatever you do, don’t hire this guy.” And I’m on the phone with him, and I’m like, “Oh shit, like what’s going on here?” So, I didn’t make the offer. I just said, “Well, let me think on it.”
I just put it on pause. I got off the phone. Come to find out, the boss of the person he had worked for previously had gone to Mike, our CMO, because he knew Mike and felt more comfortable with him. The boss didn’t want to say anything bad about this guy because he was afraid of a lawsuit. But he secretly came in and said, “Look, this guy is a white supremacist. There’s plenty of documentation out there. So, you don’t want to hire him.” And sure enough, I found out that this guy was a white supremacist.
I almost hired him.
So, thank goodness this previous boss came back to talk to us before I offered the job. And by the way, if the boss won’t even talk to me, that’s a red flag. Do you know what I mean? Because like, they should be able to talk. So, I talk to their previous boss and want to hear that they were a top performer.
I want to hear the conditions under which they left because on the Career History Forum, we ask, were you fired? Did you leave? I want to confirm why they left because the #1 thing people lie about is their reason for leaving and #2 is whether they were fired or quit. So, you’ve got to figure that out. So always talk to the previous manager and use the career history form on top grading. Get them to fill that in.
Half the battle is just hiring the right person, and you’re never going to get it 100% right.
I have interviewed people that interview phenomenally well, like super professional, prepared, ask good questions, they tried to close me like in the, and I saw what they were doing because I know sales, but they were very elegant about it. And I mean, I was thinking, I just found my next rock star, and they were an absolute dud. So, you’re never going to get 100%, but these 5 signs will help you narrow the gap.