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11 Common Mistakes When Interviewing Sales Talent

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Mar 11, 2021

In previous articles, I have talked about the things you should do during the hiring process to improve your success when sourcing sales talent. Today, I will specifically address things you should refrain from doing during the interviewing process.

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The interview is probably the 3rd most critical part of the hiring process. Two other areas set the stage for a successful hire that I will cover later:

  • Making an offer
  • Onboarding your new hire

 

But for now, let’s stick with the interview process. Interviewing, in most cases, involves more than just one meeting, and it should be considered a process rather than a singular event. In other words, the process should include but is not be limited to:

  • Pre-planning for your interview
  • Using data from the OMG pre-hire assessment, interview guides, and resumes to frame your meeting
  • The pre-interview conversation you had with the candidate to make sure they know what to bring or expect
  • Objective checklist for post-interview review and sharing
  • Ending the process with a candidate or preparing them for the next step

 

Within this process, there are several “deadly sins” committed that I will highlight here.

 

11 Deadly Interviewing Sins

  1. Not preparing the candidate. There are two things your candidate should bring or be able to validate in the interview:
    • Proven sales success (the best way to do this is for them to validate their income)
    • Sharing or being able to describe to you their calendar of appointments over the last 30 days and the next 30 day

  2. Selling the position, opportunity, or the company. Now is not the time for you or your interviewing staff to be selling

  3. Failing to understand that the candidate has one objective in mind: convince you that they are perfect for the job. This candidate will not look, sound, or act any better than they do when they show up

  4. Taking away the most important thing a salesperson must do: quickly establishing bonding, rapport, confidence, and trust. The meeting, after a cordial hello, should start with, “have a seat and let’s get started”

  5. Failing to have an objective list of questions you should answer when you review the interview with others:
    • Do I trust this person? (Would you trust them with your money, company, or family)
    • Would I meet with them again if I were a prospect?
    • Would I want to compete against this person in the market (your answer should be no)?
    • Would I buy from them?


  6. Eliminating the candidate immediately when you know they are not a fit. Just because you schedule an hour for the interview does not mean it needs to last that long. I assure you that you know when you know, and you should end the interview at that time.

  7. Make sure that you tell the candidate to book 90 minutes to 2 hours in-case it goes well. While you have them in the office, take them straight into the 2nd interview if they passed the first interview.

  8. Have a series of must-pass criteria:
    • Did they establish rapport?
    • Did they get rattled when I asked them difficult questions?
    • Did they ask questions?
    • How well did they tell stories, use analogies or metaphors?
    • Did they close me for the next step?
    • Did they prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, their sales and hunting success?

  9. Asking behavior-based questions and believing the answers. Again, they are there to convince you of how good they are. Salespeople are skillful at selling themselves, so you have to investigate further to uncover the truth

  10. Forgetting that this is an audition. Make the candidate roleplay:
    • Their opening phone call
    • The start of a discovery meeting
    • Dealing with objections, questions, and stalls
    • Asking for the business

  11. Forgetting that salespeople are different than the rest of the positions you hire. Your interviewer MUST be great at specifically interviewing salespeople.

Effective interviewing is an art and a science, and often we rely on our own biases, tendencies, likes, and dislikes when conducting interviews. Make sure you have some objective systems and processes established to take the emotion out of the decision. Make sure that these systems and processes allow you to compare candidates based on scorecards and checklists. Finally, make sure you are not desperate. Vince Lombardi stated that “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” The same is true with interviewing. Not having a pipeline of potential candidates will make cowards of us all.

 

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: sales talent acquisition, Interviewing, hiring salespeople, hire better salespeople

Recruiting and Hiring Salespeople: The 5 Minute Interview

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Mar 04, 2021

How important is it that your new salespeople be great on the phone? Assuming the answer is "very important" then your candidate screening process must begin with the 5-minute interview.

In the 6th blog in our series No Assembly Required Hiring, we discuss the importance of an effective phone screen to help identify great sales talent to help eliminate time spent with unqualified candidates. 

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As they say in Sales 101, always ask questions that you know the answers to. In today's world of lead generation, social networking, and email blitz, sales organizations overlook the necessity for great phone skills. Regardless of the origin of the lead, eventually, most B2B salespeople, lenders, advisors, and solutions consultants will have to:

  • Pick up the phone and dial a number
  • Be able to capture a prospect's attention in an instant
  • Engage in a meaningful conversation
  • Demonstrates a high level of trust and confidence
  • Close for a qualified appointment 

If that sounds like something your salespeople ought to be able to do, then make sure you interview for those capabilities. The STAR (Sales Talent Acquisition Routine) Program we implement with our clients has the following initial steps:

  1. Create a profile that will attract the right candidates and discourage the wrong ones
  2. Post the job attraction post(description), and distribute the job attraction post to those engaged in working with you to find qualified candidates
  3. Upon interest from a candidate, review the resume, and if it meets your basic requirements to be employed, test them with the sales specific Objective Management Group Pre-hire assessment
  4. If the assessment comes back as Recommended for hire or Worthy of Consideration, then schedule a 5-minute phone interview with your phone interview specialist

These 4 steps are crucial to your success at hiring more qualified candidates, but none are more important than the phone interview!

WHY? 

Because your salespeople must be great on the phone. And if they must be great on the phone, when do you want to find out that they suck? As soon as possible. An effective phone interview will save you a lot of time interviewing people who are great at the audition but can’t play the role.

Trial the Highly-Predictive  Pre-Hire Sales Assessment

It will help you answer these questions immediately and early in the process:

    • Would I listen to this person if they called me?
    • Will they ask prospects questions?
    • When they face a difficult or challenging prospect, do they rattle easily?
    • Would I meet with this person just based on how they handled the phone call?
    • Did they close me for the next step?

These are all critical findings for you to uncover and the only way to do that is to test their phone skills upfront. This process is not impacted by you already knowing them or if they have a great reputation. It does not matter how many years of experience they have or how often they lead the company in sales. What matters is that when you hire someone, they will be able to pick up the phone, grab a prospect's attention, conduct a conversation, and close for an appointment. That is all you should care about early in the recruiting process.

Have more questions about the 5-minute interview process? Email Tony at tony@anthonycoletraining.com, subject line: 5-Minute Interview, and we will be happy
to conduct a demo 5-minute phone interview.

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: Interviewing, 5 minute interview, hire better salespeople, assessing sales talent

Identifying and Hiring Top Sales Talent

Posted by Alex Cole on Thu, Dec 17, 2020

Finding and hiring great sales talent is difficult. There are many characteristics you must ensure a candidate has in order to be successful with your organization. However, there are a few key attributes you need to look for during the interview process to increase you likelihood of hiring success.

My pup, Rocky, loved to lay on top of pillows. ALL pillows. He didn’t care if they were round, square, flat, cushy, or even sewn on and attached to the back of the couch- he would find a way to lay on them. And though it irritated me to no end, I appreciated his determination. He would do whatever he had to to be on top. He was the epitome of the great sales candidates you should be looking for- except maybe the dog part.  

Rocky Pillows

Great sales candidates will think the same way Rocky did- they have to be on top. They will do whatever it takes to make sure that they are successful. They will find ways to differentiate themselves amongst their peers. The hardest part, however, is being able to spot those great salespeople without wasting a lot of your, or their, time.

A great salesperson should prove to you that they:

  • Can handle themselves well on the phone and won’t get flustered when challenged by a prospect
  • Have a strong will and determination to succeed in their role, with your company, in your selling environment
  • Will ask robust follow-up questions to get the specifics required to properly qualify an opportunity
  • Can close for the next step at the end of the call

Trial the Highly-Predictive  Pre-Hire Sales Assessment

The number one question I ask myself after any interview is this: “Would I like to compete with them in the marketplace?” If the answer is no, strongly consider this individual for a position within your organization. The interviewing process you put candidates through should work to identify these key traits.

What if they don’t have the specific experience you are looking for? Don’t worry! You can train someone on the technical parts of being a banker, relationship manager or insurance rep, but it’s a lot harder to train them to be a great salesperson. 

So, when you are interviewing sales talent, remember Rocky and his never-ending quest for higher, softer ground and his grit to get there. He was the kind of top dog you should look to add to your team.

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: Interviewing, assessing sales talent, upgrade your sales force, hiring top salespeople

5 Minute Interview – Hire Salespeople Who Will Sell

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Oct 15, 2020

If your salespeople MUST be great on the -phone then why not find out, as early as you can, how GREAT they are on the phone? If your salespeople have to be like most salespeople, they must:

  • Reach out to prospects in the marketplace by phone. Yes, there is email, and LinkedIn and Facebook etc. but eventually to schedule an appointment, most sales people have to pick up the phone to initiate the relationship or continue the relationship beyond a click on an article.
  • Be able to deal with people who are busy and generally don’t like to talk to salespeople, don’t like being interrupted and are not waiting by the phone waiting for your sales expert to call them.
  • Be able to speak clearly and concisely
  • Communicate exactly why the person on the other end of the phone should keep listening and perhaps invite them to visit
  • Have the skills to take control of a conversation by asking meaningful questions that will cause the other person to stop and really listen
  • Be memorable, engaging, thoughtful and easy to talk to
  • Convince the listener that it would be a mistake to not meet or it would be of great benefit if they did meet

    hiring-great-people_

What is the best way to find all of that out and when is the best time to figure that out? As soon as you can. And that is why we recommend the 5-minute interview.

The interview takes about 7 to 10 minutes, but I want you to tell all candidates that it’s only going to be 5 minutes. Why?

  • You want to create an environment that is going to be similar to what they face when they actually call prospects.
  • You want to get a feel for how they respond to pressure and challenging questions:
    • Mary, thanks for calling in, we have about 5 minutes so let’s get started. You saw and read the job attraction post. What makes you think you’re a fit?
      • Mary will give you standard answers about how successful and dedicated she is.
    • To which you replay: Mary I’m going to talk to 3 other people this morning I’m pretty sure I’m going to hear the same thing.
    • The job attraction post requires hunting, so you ask Mary if that describes her.
      • She will give you the right answer and pass the intelligence test with a ‘Yes’.
    • You respond with – how would I know that? If I followed you around for 30 days how many new appointments would we go on?

You get the point. This is uncomfortable for you probably because is sounds so aggressive. Well that is pretty much what the phone call will sound like for Mary, Joe, Bob or Jane when they start making calls for you when you hire them. Again, when do you want to know that they can or cannot handle challenging perhaps difficult prospects?

Finally, you need to find out if your candidate can close. You must close your part of the conversation by informing the candidate that you will be interviewing additional candidates and will be making calls to invite qualified people in for an interview. If they hear from you then they’ve made the cut, if not you wish them the best of success. Stop and wait. If the candidate does anything to continue the conversation or asks something like, what do I have to do to make that cut?, then give them points. Depending on how the resume and the assessment results, you may or may not invite them in. If they do not attempt to close to get invited in for an interview, then chances are they won’t close for an appointment with a prospect.

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: recruiting sales people, Interviewing, 5 minute interview, hiring better sales people

10 Keys to Hiring Better Salespeople

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Aug 09, 2019

Recruiting new sales talent is complicated and time consuming. Especially, when you're not prepared to fill a vacancy, don't have a pipeline of candidates or have an idea of what "better" means for your business. 

In this article, Tony Cole discusses what to start doing and what to stop doing to upgrade your sales force today!

30184505_xxl hiring recruiting man point

What are the keys to hiring better salespeople? In short you must kill spiders.

In our weekly huddle today, Jack Kasel shared a parable about a woman who asked the pastor at a revival meeting to pray that the cobwebs in her life be removed.  She appeared a second night and a third night with the same request.  The pastor granted her wish the first two nights, and prayed that the cobwebs in her life be removed.  When she appeared the 3rd time at the revival with the same request, the Pastor stopped her mid-request because he realized he had been asking God for the wrong thing. The Pastor instead prayed; "Father, we do not ask You tonight to clean the cobwebs from Ms. Rameriez’ life.  In fact, Lord, keep them there for now.  But tonight, we ask for something much greater.  Tonight, we ask that you kill the spiders in Ms. Ramirez’s life."

What does killing spiders have to do with recruiting and hiring better salespeople?  Well, indirectly nothing, but metaphorically speaking, it has a lot to do with hiring better salespeople. 

Here are 10 things to "Start doing" and 3 things to "Stop doing" when it comes to recruiting and attempting to hire better salespeople:

Start Doing:

  1. Create a profile of a salesperson that describes exactly what success they need to achieve. This will work more effectively than writing a job description and posting that to a job site or telling your influencers that you're looking for a "great salesperson".
  2. As Alex Cole describes here, use a pre-hire assessment in the 2nd step of your hiring process. Before you have a phone or face-to-face interview, assess EVERY candidate with a sales specific assessment that can match sales experience with your specific sales success requirements.
  3. Interview only those that have be recommended for hire as THE salesperson you are looking for.
  4. Create an interview process that mimics the sales process. If they have to be great on the phone, then interview them on the phone before you meet, and give them the same amount of time to impress you that they would get with a prospect.  If they can’t impress the hell out of you in 3 minutes, they won’t impress a prospect either.
  5. In your first face-to-face interview, make them do the "hard stuff". Such as:
    • Make them establish bonding and rapport.
    • Make them ask you questions about what it takes to be successful, what do the top salespeople do in your organization and what do they have to tell you to make sure they make it to the next step.
    • Schedule only 30 minutes but make sure there is an extra 30 minutes for an interview with another person in your office. I promise you that you will know if you should proceed after 30 minutes.
  6. Make sure that when you are ready to make an offer, they are ready to decide. Inform them of that process so they are prepared to tell you "yes" or "no".  Your offer should meet their expectations, you must be able to answer all of their questions and you must know what you are willing to negotiate to get the person you want to hire.  DO NOT let them use your offer to get a better deal.
  7. Onboard them so that they clearly understand what it takes to be successful and what is expected of them in the first 90 days. Make sure they understand that there are no excuses accepted for lack of compliance to training, onboarding and any sales activity required.  Additionally, you must be able to answer all the questions on this list.

Stop Doing:

  1. Using behavioral and/or personality tests to determine if someone can sell. Stop using cold calling assessments to make your hiring decisions. Stop thinking that you have to sell the position early on to get a candidate interested in you.  (If they respond to a call, an email, a job post then they have already taken the first step TOWARDS you).
  2. Stop thinking that the decision is about money. In today’s working world, it’s about providing an opportunity that can be transformational.  Money will only get you people that will leave you for more money.
  3. Only recruiting when you need someone. Being reactive is a horrible position to be in.  You are held hostage and being held hostage will force you to make hiring mistakes.

So what does this have to do with spiders? The Pastor was attempting to make the point that we cannot (when it comes to recruiting), deal with symptoms; we must deal with the root causes.  We can try and train people longer, we can try and work on the compensation model, we can implement and execute PIP programs. In the end, the right end of the problem is dealing with the spider. 

Start with the right person and the cobwebs go away.

 

Interested in taking a step towards more effective hiring practices? Email alex@anthonycoletraining.com for a free job description analysis and to schedule a conversation with our hiring specialist.

 

 

Topics: sales skills, Interviewing, pre-hire evaluations, hire better salespeople, upgrade your sales force

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    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.

     

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