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Central Scotland | amackie@sandler.com

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One of the phrases I often use during our sales training is, ‘The best pitch any salesperson will give you is their job interview’. I think most of you will agree that hiring salespeople is unlike hiring for any other position.

Most professionals who attend our sales management training have learnt that a bad hire for a sales position can be very costly, often quoted as between 5 and 10 times salary. However, how can you unlock the ‘real’ applicant and understand what hides beneath the super-friendly and perhaps superficial candidate. Here are four simple steps you should follow:

1.    Rule of Three Plus

Most salespeople know the ‘‘right’’ answers to your questions and will only give you the answers you want to hear. Just as you would do in a meeting with your prospect, during the interview reverse your interviewee's answers at least three times, only then you will hear his/her real answers and clear the smokescreen.

2.    Lose your rose-coloured glasses

Instead of bonding with the interviewee try ‘‘anti-bonding’’ and make them work extra hard to bond with you. After all, that is exactly what they will be doing with the prospect. If you like the interviewee and believe that he/she will be a good fit for the job, make sure that at least one other person from your department interviews him/her. Good cop/bad cop can often work.

3. Hire to fit the job

Remember, no sales person at all is better than having a bad one. Make sure that a detailed job description that includes the personality traits of the ideal candidate is created. The tighter your job description, the higher your chance of finding a good match for the role.

4. Use Assessments

Interviewing is a very subjective activity. By using competency based assessments you will have a much better idea of the candidate’s real strengths/weaknesses and will be able to dig deeper during the interview.

Due to human nature, many sales managers make the mistake of trying to impress the candidate with their personality or the organisation. Only by becoming a stronger interviewer will you be able to hire the future top performers and build your ‘’Dream Team’’.

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