How to Select Sales Reps Who Sell Well vs. Interview Well

You Don’t Need a Schmoozer. You Need a Closer

Every now and then I meet a sales rep that doesn’t interview well, but let’s face it; people in sales are used to talking to people, schmoozing, and bonding. Because of this, every rep you talk to is going to come off as friendly and appropriate. Some may not be as stellar, but the fact is, most of them interview pretty well.

The problem is interviewing well and selling well are two different things. You must answer the bigger and more important question: How well will this person sell after I hire him or her

Top Grading

Top grading is a behavioral interviewing approach. In a behavioral interview approach, you talk about past performance and ask questions pertaining to how they handled various situations in the past. We’re big fans and proponents of that approach. BUT, there are certain hidden weaknesses that do not come out during the behavioral interviewing process.

Reference Check Limitations

Reference checks have limitations; unfortunately, there are certain things that you cannot find out in a reference check.  Companies are often afraid to provide much detail regarding a former employee’s performance. They can confirm a couple of questions, such as whether or not a person worked there, the dates of employment, and the compensation plan, but that’s about all they can say. Because of that, reference checks really don’t carry much weight anymore.

Assessments

We put a lot of stock in assessments. In fact, we use four different assessments on every single person we interview. We do the same thing for our clients if we’re doing the interviewing and hiring for them. In cases where our clients handle their own interviews, we provide the tools to them.

Assessments take a look at belief systems, including hidden beliefs. This is important because they don’t come out in interviews. These hidden beliefs either support or sabotage reps in their sales efforts, and don’t usually come out until 30, 60 or even 90 days after you have them on board.  At that point, you might be thinking, “Uh oh, I thought I was hiring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Woody Allen showed up!”

Assessments, especially sales assessments look at sales ability, sales skills, sales beliefs and mindset, the sales process, and everything that has anything to do with selling. This helps you avoid hiring a dud when you thought you were hiring a superstar. It enables you to hire with your eyes wide open, so you actually get what you think you’re getting.

We also look at motivators. What motivates them to get up in the morning? What puts that fire in their belly?  In addition to the above, we evaluate their cognitive ability. How do they order their thoughts? Do they think strategically or do they think practically? Are they empathetic to a fault?  And then we’ll take a look at personality and social style, but that matters the least of it all.

Thriving vs. Getting By

What you’re really looking for is someone who can thrive in a position, rather than just get by. The assessments help us determine whether somebody is getting into a position that really allows them to thrive, which goes far beyond just being able to do the job.

The allegory that I use to illustrate this is, pretend that you’re in a helicopter, and you’re flying over the autobahn in Germany.

As you know, on the autobahn, the speed is unlimited; you can drive as fast as your car can go. And you’re looking down on two cars, a Porsche and a VW Bug. And they’re both going 100 miles an hour. From the air, looking at those two cars, they look like they’re going the same speed. As you observe them, you think, you know what? They can both do the job.

But, the driver in the Porsche is in 5th gear and hasn’t even hit 6th yet, and he is just loving it. He is having a blast, is relaxed, and could drive at that speed all day long. In contrast, the driver in the VW Bug is getting his brains rattled out. He’s getting tired, and he needs a break.

That to me is the difference between thriving and getting by. The VW Bug is getting by, and after a couple months of driving that way, the engine’s going to blow up. That’s burnout. That’s just getting by.

The Porsche is thriving and could keep going for years.

We’re a big believer in assessments because they help us determine whether or not we’re interviewing a Porsche or a VW Bug. Assessments help us determine things that don’t come out in a job interview such as not only looking at whether or not the person can sell but if they’ll thrive, rather than just get by.

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