Hiring The Salesperson, Part One

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I’ve been involved in sales in one way or another for most of my adult life. I’ve started several companies, and in all cases but one, I got those companies off the ground by wearing the sales hat.

I was able to hire salespeople along the way and my hat moved over to supervising their sales activities.

As any business owner knows, the lifeline of a company depends on people who can competently, successfully and ethically sell products and/or services.

Therefore it makes tremendously good sense to hire the right people for the sales position.

So let’s get down to it.

The first thing you could do is find out how prepared your candidate is for his interview with you. Ask him the following:

What can you tell me about my company’s product line?

This next statement is particularly true if your market is other companies but it’s also true if you providing a product or service to a general consumer:

The exceptional sales person will do as much research as possible on his prospective clients. The more he knows about the company or individual, the more effectively and efficiently he will be able to accomplish the sale.

So, what kind of research did this candidate do on your company? Did he do a quick perusal of your web site or did he really dig in for details on your product line? Did he happen to call one of your existing salespeople to find out how your product is marketed and sold?

If your candidate only did a superficial examination of your product line, that’s not a good sign. It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, but research is a key element of the sales tool kit. If he only does a cursory job of it now when he’s trying to get hired, how diligent will he be when he’s selling your product line?

On the flip side, if your candidate did some serious research and can have an in-depth conversation with you about your product line, doesn’t that make you feel considerably more warm and fuzzy about his prospects.

There’s more to cover, surely, about hiring the salesperson, but this is a good start.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


Please Feel Sorry For Me and Hire Me

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Many of us have interviewed the person who wanted us to feel sorry for them. They wanted to use this line of sympathy as a reason to be hired.

Here are a few examples:

    • “I have this pretty serious medical condition and I’m not really sure how things are going to turn out.”

 

    • “I used to be very capable and could handle just about anything. But in the last year or so, I feel I’ve lost my drive and my enthusiasm. Gosh, I sure hope I get it back”

 

    • “My dad passed away a few months ago and, well, frankly, I’m still very broken up about it.”

 

    • “At the end of last year, my wife lost her job. Since then, we’ve pretty much been living off credit cards. Which, I’m sure you know, is not a great way to live these days. I gotta tell you, ‘I really, REALLY need this job.'”

 

  • “My wife just had twins. So that makes three kids. We were having a tough time raising just the one, so this is going to be a major challenge for us.”

And there are others where this came from. The common denominator of course is the candidate wants us to feel sorry for them and they believe this will enhance their chances of getting hired.

What do you think about this approach?

On the one hand, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with lending a hand and helping someone out.

But the other side of that coin is the viability of your business. Do you want to hire someone who presents themselves as a victim? I realize the word “victim” can be seen as pretty harsh. Here’s a definition of victim:

someone who suffers because of something bad that happens or because of an illness

The candidate who wants you to hire them because of what they can do for you and your business is essentially the flip side of the candidate who wants you to hire them because of what you can do to help them out.

It’s really up to you on this one. If Sally’s in a tough spot, it’s understandable that you feel that providing her a job will help her out of that tough spot. Along with that, you envision Sally becoming a real asset for you. And because you offered her the job when she was in rough shape, you figure she’s going to be very loyal to you down the road.

That all makes sense.

Just realize Sally may not come out of it. “Being a victim” may be a long term life choice for Sally and that will not spell success for your business.

Either way, it’s important to have clarity on what kind of candidate you have in front of you. Our employee testing service will help you bring that clarity.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


Attitude Versus Skills, Revisited!

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An article by Mark Murphy, entitled Hiring for Attitude was a Q&A with Mark on the importance of attitude when considering new candidates.

I found the first question and answer particularly interesting:

Question: “We hear it a lot… company X did a great job hiring a highly skilled worker, only to later discover that the new hire was a terrible fit for the organization. Why do so many interviews fail to assess whether a candidate will be a good fit?”

Answer (from Mark Murphy): “When our research tracked 20,000 new hires, we found that 89% of the time new hires failed, it was for attitudinal reasons, not lack of skill. One of the reasons is that most organizations have no test by which to assess attitude, and many have no concrete idea of what the attitudes they should be hiring for even are. You can train for skills and technical competence; but you can’t train for ‘attitude.’ You have to interview and hire for attitude.”

I’d say that’s pretty powerful research. At least, in terms of the clarity it brings.

Essentially 9 out of 10 of those 20,000 new hires failed as a result of attitude, with the remainder failing due to lack of skill of some kind.

This research doesn’t surprise me. I’ve written hiring tips before on this subject.

What does this mean for your company?

Well, if you’ve been in business for awhile, you’ve likely established a “culture” in your workplace. There’s a certain way you and your staff go about doing things. I imagine there’s a certain tone or atmosphere that you promote. If this culture works for you, then hiring people who “fit” into that culture is a worthy objective.

To some degree you can test your candidates for this. Our personality test will provide you with definite clues as to how people act and interact in the workplace. Proper testing can help you weed out bad apples.

But, in the final analysis, I’m going to say your perceptions are accurate. If the person sitting across from you doesn’t appear to have the attitudes you’re looking for, or if you feel this person will not really fit into your culture, then so be it.

Don’t invalidate your perceptions.

Too often we see something we don’t like about a candidate and then we brush it off. We tell ourselves there’s so many other things we do like, we don’t let that one nagging thing get in the way.

And yes, we do need to carefully weigh the positives and the negatives of every candidate.

When it comes to attitude, though, let’s start giving it the weight it deserves.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


“Hiring Mistakes Cost Our Company $100 Million”

This is not your usual Hiring Tip, but I figured you might like to hear Tony Hsieh, of Zappos.com fame, comment on hiring mistakes his company made, especially when he feels the mistakes cost the company that large a sum!

I don’t know that I would agree with his “hire slow, fire fast” approach, but he certainly has considerable street smarts. More on Tony here.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


Which Is More Important…
The Right Attitude or the Right Skills?

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You’re down to two candidates you really like. One has just the right skills for the job and the other lacks the skills but has a great attitude?

Which one should you hire?

Well, ideally, you want a nice blend of skills and attitude, but if you really are down to these two choices, I’d recommend hiring the person with the great attitude.

Why?

You can always train and apprentice people to have the skills needed to get the job done, but you can’t “train” attitude.

Obviously, if your job opening is a computer programmer requiring a highly technical skill set, then those skills need to be present on Day One.

But let’s say you need someone to handle the front desk. Many companies hire the wrong person for this position. The front desk or receptionist needs to be the friendliest person in town. Even the slightest bad attitude on this position can cut right at your bottom line. I’ll address this position in greater depth in a future Hiring Tip, as it really is a key position in every company.

Many of us have worked with an employee who had a bad attitude and who poisoned the workplace, to the point of even sending customers away. And we held onto this person because they were “really qualified” for the position.

And we often find out AFTER we let the bad apple go how much damage was being done.

Lesson learned: You can’t put a bad apple in a basket with perfectly good apples and expect the good apples to remain “untouched.”

All in all, you want that combination of great attitude and great skills, but if the skills can be fairly quickly acquired, then always go for the great attitude.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


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