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All right now, you have put you candidates through the prescribed series of interviews, tests and simulations. You are down to the candidate you want to hire so now what?
Okay, you conduct the simulation, video tape it and have your results all laid out. Now, you have to relay the results to the candidate. You may think you have learned everything there is to know because of the thoroughness of the simulation but you haven’t.
Our friend “Gauge” tells us how the candidate accepts your critique should be a crucial factor in your overall decision.
Now a short course on how to relay critique. The better the simulation the harsher the critique, the worse the simulation the more gentle. In both cases you MUST relay the facts it is just the manner that will change.
If they did a great job but are thin skinned during the critique that should tell you that they may not take criticism well much less be able to handle adversity. Or as Alec Baldwin said in Glen Garry Glenn Ross “if you can’t take what I am saying to you how are you going to take the abuse you get on a sit?” People who perform well need a more tougher approach because you don’t want some talented prima donna who can’t take coaching. They tend to be complainers and could undermine authority and teamwork.
If they did a poor job but take the criticism well or ask for a second chance to fix their mistakes and put your suggestions in action that should tell you about their resilience. I want somebody with the attitude to try until they get it right. You may be softer in your approach but nobody likes a bad review. If they crumble well… If they are made of sterner stuff they you’ll know by their response.
These examples are the extremes. Your critiques will vary of course as will how you handle them, always based on the individual. What is important is learning more about the candidate and their viability for your position while determining the direction of the interview process.
Check back for my for my next post on Hiring a Sales Superstar!
And remember “You can either make sales or make excuses but you can’t do both!”
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Sales simulations are a KEY tool in discovering the actual skill level of any potential sales hires. Think about it, what tells you more about a person besides how they actually react in a particular situation? And the beauty of the sales simulation is that you can construct it EXACTLY to the experiences you have everyday.
There are a 1o steps that must be adhered to so the simulation will yield the results and information you need to help in your hiring selection. I will detail 9 of them today and the 10th will be in my next post.
That’s it for today. If you have any questions or need any help constructing/conducting a Sales Simulation give me a call at 216-347-6729. Make sure to check back for my next post where I detail out Number 11; How to conduct an effective Critique Session. And believe you me if you thought the Simulation was an eye-opener just wait to see what you will learn by critiquing your candidate’s performance.
“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside themselves was superior to circumstance” Bruce Barton
First let me introduce you to Gauge, he is a member of the BPL: The Best Practice League. His specialty is the hiring and assessment process and he helps us to remember just how important it is to not only ask the right questions but to ask them the right way.
Okay, I promised you the questions to use for a first interview. So below is the link to the document with the questions. But before we get to them, let’s talk about “HOW” to conduct a first in-person interview.
Remember this is an interview not a date. Don’t get swept up in the style of the moment. You are looking for answers that contain facts and figures. The best salespeople know how to make a compelling point . They know how to paint a picture evoking emotion with their words. They also know how to give specifics, facts and details. The less specific an answer is the quicker your @#$%^ detector should be going off.
Make sure you are very clear upfront about what you want from them. You want this to be conversational but you are looking for answers to these questions. If they don’t get to the point don’t let them off the hook. Keep after them a maximum of 3 times on any one question. If they have not answered the question to your satisfaction after 3 tries move on but make sure to notate the miss.
Finally, ALWAYS record your interviews. This kills 3 birds with the proverbial 1 stone. 1) you don’t have to trust your memory or your notes 2) upon reflection you may hear something for better or worse that you missed on the first pass 3) legal protection. Remember, you do have to tell them they will be recorded.
Please feel free to give me a call 216 347 6729 and we can talk through any questions you may have and in the meantime make sure you go to my websites by clicking in the links to the right.
Make sure to check back for the next post when we discuss how to conduct a Sales Simulation and conduct a Critique Session that will give you more insight into a sales hire than you ever thought possible.
Here are your 1st Interview Questions…
William Arthur Ward
In our previous post we discussed the traits that are present in ALL Sales Superstars. Today we are going to discuss how to set the agenda with the applicant that will help to smooth the interview process on both sides of the table.
I LOVE a good candy bar, my favorite being 3 Musketeers, don’t know why just love’em! The thing I always notice is no matter how large my craving and how good it tastes going down the experience never really fills me up. Then when my eyes are bigger then my stomach and I have too many of those delectable little morsels (like Halloween) my stomach quickly shows its displeasure at my lack of willpower. Poor interviewing has similar symptoms but far worse consequences.
Okay, first off let’s remember this is an interview for a professional sales position, it is not a personality contest. Too many sales managers think they have to fall over themselves being genial while not asking any tough questions lest you scare off a potential hire. I am not advocating being rude I am saying you need to treat this as business meeting not a conversation at a bar. If you are looking for a new best friend or somebody who will be a “Yes Person” then you are in the wrong business.
Sales Superstars are competitive and they liked to be challenged. They will naturally gravitate to the person or organization that they believe CAN and WILL push them to be the best and help them make the most money.
Set The Tone
You need to inform them that
Good start! If you set the ground rules as stated above it will allow for a clear and open discussion on qualifications. Just be prepared to live by your own rules. The best want to work with the best. We naturally are attracted to people who are as good or better than we are. If a Sales Superstar asks you direct questions and you can not answer them don’t expect them to WANT to work for you no matter how ‘nice’ an interviewer you may be….
That’s it for today, next up what are the questions you need to ask in an interview…
It always amazes me to find out how FEW sales managers actually check references. I’m all for trust, but can you really believe everything an interviewee is telling you? What really scares me is that I think it is more about being lazy/busy than trust. I heard a great line the other day, “We never have enough time to do it right, but we always have enough time to go back and fix it.” Let’s start doing it right the first time and eliminating unqualified candidates from ever darkening your office door again.
After completing the phone screen and prior to scheduling the 1st in-person interview, let the applicant know you need their references and that they will be checked before the first interview.
Yes, I said checking references should be done BEFORE the 1st in-person interview. Why you ask… Do you want to waste your time in an interview with somebody who doesn’t have good references? I thought so… Also this has 2 additional benefits 1) It scares away anyone who doesn’t have good references and is either going to manufacture them when needed or hope you forget to ask and check. 2) It also tests the preparation of the applicant — letting you know just how proactive this person is. Either benefit really pays for itself in time investment ten fold in return.
Making the Calls: There is a definitive art to making reference calls. Most people will only give you perfunctory information out of fear of getting sued. Your job is to relax the person you are talking to and make it a conversation, not an interrogation. People like to give their advice so if you ask questions that put them in the role of advisor and not former employer we are more likely to gather the info we need.
Questions You Should Be Asking In No Particular Order (Remember Conversation Not Interrogation)
You’ll rarely get all of the details about a candidate. So before you make the reference call try this tactic. Call their direct line whenever you are sure they won’t be there and leave this message: “____ is applying for a sales position at out firm. Your name has been given to me as a reference. Please call me back if this person was outstanding.” If they do not call back, follow up with an actual reference call during regular hours and ask if they got the message and if there was a reason they did not call you back.
Remember to either record or take detailed notes about the call. You may get a sterling recommendation, but that is not the overall goal of the call. You are determining if this person will be a Sales Superstar. Test what the reference said about the candidate. Incorporate specific questions and simulations, based on a references answers, into your interview process.
You never know what might be the one factoid that trips up a phony. One detail that saves you and your company thousands of dollars, hundreds of manhours and lost customers just because somebody “interviewed well” and you didn’t have time to check their references.
Okay on to the first interview. The next post we will be discussing the setup and how to incorporate what you have learned so far into the questions that are needed to assure you of hiring of a Sales Superstar!
Part 5: The Telephone Interview
After getting your position contract, hiring dashboard and other preparation work done it is time to dig in and to get people into the process. Remember, hiring is just like sales the more prospects you have in the pipeline the better chance you have of finding an A-Player. The best hires I have made over the years have been from the average ratio of 1 out of 68 applicants. The average time time they have been with their company is 8.2 years. They also have performed remarkably, the average quota attainment for my hires is 121%. The process works but you have to use it, so let’s start defining the steps so you can see these results too!
Tools: 3 basic questions and the ability to listen discerningly. The 3 questions need to be simple, direct and must give you insight to the applicant’s selling style and attitude (I will be posting a sample of questions with a link).
Methodology: Your calling sessions should always be between 7pm amd 9pm. Why in the evening you ask? Simple, when is the best time to reach somebody, during the workday or at home? When do you think that they will have their guard down and you will be able to get the “truest” answers from them? When will give you the best chance to really “hear” who they are? All have the same answer in THE EVENING!
* Now the call itself, first introduce yourself, let them know who you are and why you are calling. Ask if they are familar with your company then listen to their response. You are looking for someone who took the time to research your company and not just blasted out 1000+ resumes’.
* Next, explain what you will doing in this call. You have a few questions to ask, and they probably have a few questions (always make sure they have the time, this interview should last 15 to no longer than 30 minutes at the absolute outside). If they say yes then give them a chance to ask their questions. Go into some measure of detail but stay away from phone interview taboos like salary. Also, if the questions they ask are all about vacation, benefits, parking and start/end times (8-5, 9-6 etc.) these should be your first warning signs. You want to hear questions about the market, customers, typical sales day etc., these are good initial indicators of a salesperson.
* After they have exhausted their questions or time is running a bit long it is your turn. Ask the questions you have prepared and give them a chance to respond to each in full. Remember you are looking for clear, intelligent and thought provoking answers and you won’t hear them if you are talking over their responses. One of my steadfast guidlines is to never paraphrase an answer from an applicant. Always either audio tape or write EXACTLY what they said in response to your question. Never let your ASSUMPTIONS come in the way of their answers and actual intent.
* If their answers are to your satisfaction close the interview by asking if they have any other questions. To a “good” sales applicant they will recognize this as the opportunity to try and close you for an in-person interview. If they do not try and close you it is a judgement call as to whether you ask them for an in-person. In case you were wondering, 90% of the time I will not invite them for an in-person unless they tried to close me first.
*Wrap it up by scheduling a first in-person interview and making sure you get their references because you need to check them in before the in-person.
There are, obviously, many areas of open interpretation here. Please feel free to call or email with any questions you may have.
Next post we’ll discuss how to conduct the reference check and why to do it BEFORE the first in-person interview!
Part 4: Measuring Your Results
Hiring needs to be a trackable, multiple step process or as the saying goes “measure twice, cut once”. We simply can not afford the cost of our time, effort and potential loss of customers or revenue because of a bad hire. So today we are digging into the setup of your new hiring system
First, before you start using the system you MUST create a “hiring dashboard”. Usually its a spread sheet or project document that allows you track each candidate as to where they are in the process and how they are performing at each step. This is a crucial tool that will help you to not only keep up to date with your candidates but it will also help you to see where and what steps need to be improved in your system (I will be posting a sample of this at the end of the week). This document can also be an excellent communication tool. It should be posted on a shared resource drive so all members of the hiring team can update the dashboard as needed as well as check on the progress of all candidates in the pipeline at any time.
Next you need to establish a scoring or rating system for each step of the system. My rule of thumb is KISS (keep it simple stupid). I generally have 3 possible scores, 1) acceptable 2) not acceptable 3) above average. This methodology allows the actual “math” to be relatively easy. You total the 3 answers and factor in your “gut” feeling when you have candidates who are close in answer results. I promise you will find that the best candidates are ALWAYS the highest scores if you use the right measures.
Okay, that’s it for today tomorrow, 4/09/08, I will begin to detail out the the first steps of the Hire Right System, talk to you then!