Don’t Hire Only on “Qualifications”


Recently, more of our time is spent helping clients in the selection of salespeople. Many of these clients are small to mid-size companies that are not hiring salespeople on a regular basis and therefore, frankly, are not very adept at the process. Nor, have they been very successful hiring the best candidates.

A point of clarification here; we are not recruiters. We only help select candidates from those resumes presented. Many times, those candidates come from recruiters.

There are two things our clients find helpful when beginning the hiring process for salespeople. First, develop a profile of the candidates you will consider. Second, develop a set of criteria that will help you make the hiring decision. It’s easy to confuse the two and get all tangled up. So, here are some samples that should help you.

First, your profile of a viable candidate may include benchmarks like this:

  1. 7 years of B2B selling experience with at least 4 years in your industry
  2. Successful track record meeting or exceeding sales goals
  3. Experience selling to Fortune 1000 companies
  4. Experience selling your type of products
  5. Experience in your geographic market
  6. A college degree or equivalent experience.
  7. Ability to manage a large account
  8. And so on.

This list helps you screen the resumes and can be included in the initial phone screen interview.

Now, for the deeper dive. During the interview process you should be uncovering the candidate’s ability to actually perform. That is, can they do what their resume says they can do?

Too often we find clients that have hired based on the profile only. The candidate has the license, but can they hunt? The hiring decision should only be made after the candidate has given you evidence of their sales process, selling skills, goal attainment, etc. Have they have been successful before?

Your hiring criteria should look more like this:

  1. Have they produced sales volume similar to the sales volume you desire
  2. Do they have a proven and successful sales process
  3. Do they possess time and territory management skills
  4. Have they done major account acquisition and management
  5. Can they give specific examples of these criteria when asked?

Your candidate should first meet the established profile AND then demonstrate they possess the hiring criteria. If you are satisfied they meet both, then there is a greater possibility they will be successful with your organization. If they cannot satisfy both you are likely to be disappointed. The only question then is; how long will it take for you admit it your error.

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