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It could be argued that a sales manager's primary responsibility is to recruit, train and motivate his or her sales force to achieve peak performance - and of these three fundamentally important tasks, recruiting is not only the least understood but is also by far the most challenging. While there's no perfect system that can absolutely guarantee you'll hire the right person every time there are certainly fundamental guidelines you must follow if you expect to recruit your way right to the very top.

No matter what type of business you have, your goal is to hire the best person for every position from your CEO to the newest mail employee. Every organisation wishes to recruit top talent and retain them.
 

How To Recruit Top Sales Talent: Want It, Don't Need It

Make sure you recruit from want not need (don't just wait until you need it). To orchestrate a successful ongoing recruiting programme you must have a game plan. Flow charts can help demonstrate you desired results - write down the obvious.
 

Be Idealistic

Have an "ideal" employee profile so you know who you are looking for before you find them. Once a precise description and guideline of what the perfect recruit looks like - you can begin your process.
 

60/40 Interview Rule

Studies by the CIPD have shown that the most successful interviews follow the 60/40 talk/listen pattern and that's 60% interviewee and 40% interviewer to ensure the right balance of talk and listen and not simply 'ask question, answer, ask question, answer'!  To ensure there's no awkward silences then preparation is the absolute key to a good interview. Have at least 50 written interview questions. Have sub questions prepared so you can help the candidate elaborate and communicate in detail on their previous answers. Remember a good successful interview will follow the 60/40 rule allowing the interviewee to speak for over half  of the time allowing you to assess their suitability to your business.  Remember a bad interview is one where you talk, they listen and you like them simply because they listen!
 

Make It Logical And Objective

A good recruiting strategy must utilize many tools to help reduce the emotion and help to make a more logical and quantitative selection - these must be used to test and profile potential sales person. Psychometrics, sales aptitude, emotional intelligence helps to gauge the personality (and anything else you would like to know about a possible future employee).
 

It's Not All In The CV

Don't just hire sales candidates based entirely upon CV's. If you want to recruit absolute top sales candidates you must recruit and hire based on talent and attitude. Hiring effectively is a continuous process that comprises of both scientific elements and creativity. If you have a consistent place - your recruitment process will be much more successful.
 

Are You A Buyer When It Comes To Recruitment?

Patience is a virtue... especially during an interview process. You will be looking for a hard working, self motivated, team player (and not just a warm body to fill the position). If you are able to approach the interview process with a "buyers" mentality, you're more likely to maintain your objectivity and consequently hire a long-term top sales employee.

The position available should not be oversold; undersold and inherent challenges must not be understated. If you're a buyer, you will understand the importance and responsibility of being straightforward. It is often better to run the risk of scaring off a prospective hire rather than facing a disillusioned salesperson. Emphasising demanding aspects of the sales profession (rejection and hard work) should not be undermined. If you place a few roadblocks and challenges in front of a prospective employee you are able to verify that his or her interest is genuine and it will validate their decision.
 

The Interview Itself - A 3 Step Interview

Phase 1 "Initial Interview"

This can be conducted face to face, on Skype (Internet teleconferencing) or on the phone (refer to the Telephone Interviewing blog for tips) but this interview should not be any longer than 20 minutes. The first impression you make will tell you a lot about the person. You should have 6 to 8 open ended questions prepared and during the interview you should refer back to their their CV and ask about things that you may have been unclear on. You should also go into further details about roles, experiences and the education that the candidate had undertaken. Additional screening can take place around this time such as background checks (financial/crime), references etc to help weed out 'wrong' candidates.
 

Phase 2 "Profiling"

Second interviews often consists of using a series of profiles such as personality, psychometric and emotional intelligence testing and biographical profiling to help see if the prospective candidate is a good match. Systematic profiles help take the emotion out of recruiting. If they pass the profile testing you'll probably want to sell them on the opportunity more so at this stage - get them excited about the role and organisation.
 

Phase 3 "In Depth Interviewing"

This is the interview when you can 'dig deeper' and give the candidate an opportunity to deselect themselves if they feel it isn't a good match. You may well want to share the pros and cons of the job role at this stage. What's more, standardised questions should be asked to help you understand the candidates understanding of the job, required skill set and knowledge. Most importantly by now, you should have a great understanding if they would fit in to your organisations culture. You may further uncover coaching opportunities for the future (that is if you decide to take the candidate on).

A three step interview process allows for reflection, temperament testing and verification of references. It is advised that you leave a minimum of one week between interviews. If you consider setting up some hurdles between the first and second interviews you will allow yourself time to measure interest and personal responsibility.
 

Reference Check, Reference Check, Reference Check

In addition to the 'standard' questions regarding character, work ethic etc it's always a great idea to ask his or her referee questions along the basis of "In your opinion, if (candidate's name) were to fail as a salesperson, what do you think the reason would be and why?" Question as such are never anticipated yet frequently invite the most insightful discussion.
 


 


 
 

Tick It Off

It is strongly recommended that you use a checklist - it will allow you to stay on track and will help you to remember those all important questions. Merely relying on your memory is a poor business decision and one that normally comes back to haunt you (and your sales targets!). Also please make sure you take good notes throughout the interview - and remember the 60/40 rule, listen more than you talk.

There are several benchmark questions that you must keep in mind during the interviewing process. Ask yourself throughout the interview, does the candidate make a favourable first impression and would you want this person working for your competition?
 

Temperament Profiling

A sales hiring manager who lacks the benefit of character and personality understanding may be inclined to place too much emphasis on his or her gut-level feeling during the hiring process.

So what traits should you look for in a prospective hire? Personally, there are two mandatory qualities that a new sales candidate should possess: loyalty and dependability. If an individual is not loyal to a company it is likely that they are to violate company policies and procedures. Disloyal employees are also often the first to leave as soon as the going gets tough - you can look for signs of stability on their CV and ask for their opinions on previous employers. It further makes no sense whatsoever to invest huge amounts of financial and emotional capital training someone that you cannot depend on.

The importance of matching the job description to the correct candidate cannot be overstated. Temperament evaluation between the first, second and third interview should be administered to aid recruiting the right sales candidate.

Make Sure You Don't Hire The Quitter (or Could you be the Cause?)
Retirement, promotion and transfer are understandable reasons for sales force turnover, however the quitter is often unpredictable. You must not underestimate your staff turnover. If your personnel turnover is high it most often caused by improper recruiting, inadequate training and a lack of incentives to excel. If recruitment has not been implemented successfully in the past (or future) you may well find yourself with high turnover and a sales team with low morale.  Before recruiting it may be worth evaluating why staff have left and learn from the lessons
 

Use Priceless Resources That Are All Around You

Think about your culture and share your vision with your employees. They may be able to recommend potentially good candidates whom fit the role perfectly!
 

Word Of Mouth

Treat every single candidate like a valuable employee. Make use of phone calls and hand written letters, sharing information or experiences with every candidate and always be quick and courteous when returning a call. Give solid constructive feedback that is useful to unsuccessful candidates.  Whether or not the person gets the job, you can recruit top talent by getting good 'kudos' in your sector by getting others to talk about the positive experience they had your company even if they were not successful.
 

What To Make Sure Doesn't happen

Make sure you get the information you were actually looking to find out during the interview taking into account that of course the candidate may have been telling you exactly what you want to hear! Try not to place too much emphasis on 'warm' and 'fuzzy' feelings, visual perception and gut feelings. Make sure before you make the hire that you have obtained objective, reliable information which clearly states why exactly this candidate is perfect the role.

 

Don't Lose Them, Redirect Them

Staying flexible is imperative. If your new hire proves to be a good fit for your company but unfortunately not for the specific position filled, if possible try moving them to another position that capitalises on their strengths and experience. It must be remembered that employees who are a good fit culturally can be hard to find - remember some of the greatest business leaders started in their corporations in a role that was totally dissimilar to that which they were hired for but their mentor saw  something within them.
 

To Conclude

Make sure when you are recruiting your next sales employee to do so with fresh eyes and if it is on a "need-to" basis, do not rush into it (it often only goes wrong in the end). Develop a methodology and a recruitment strategy that reflects the values, objectives and branding of your company using a structure that is fair, defensible and transparent. In addition, remember to be reviewing the sales candidate at each stage and be creative about it!!

Recruit Sales Staff

Submit CV

Contact us

Got a question, problem or want some information?
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Tel: 01908 061400

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Giles Phillips is a rare find in the minefield of sales recruitment; an honest and thoughtful recruiter who considers the needs of both the client AND the candidate to create perfect role matches. I look forward to working with him again in the future.

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Since joining DSGi, Rob has been a supplier of permanent staff and has performed to an extremely high standard, successfully filling 98% of roles he has worked on. If anyone is looking for a good sales and marketing based consultancy with an informal yet professional approach, I would recommend Rob.

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Aaron Wallis helped me secure a position I really wanted. Giles saught to keep me updated with all the details preceding interviews and after with feedback. I would highly recommend Giles and Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment.

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Perfect from start to finish. Simon deserves a shout out. Best recruiter there is. If you need a job, this guy will get you one. He's like the super man of recruiters. Top man, can't recommend him enough.

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Aaron Wallis is an outstanding recruitment agency specialising in high calibre sales positions. I was working directly with Darren Dawrance who went above and beyond my expectations in sourcing me my perfect role. I was kept in regular communication with Darren and he worked extremely hard on securing my dream job. Highly recommended and Thanks Darren for all your expertise and hard work.

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Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process, and even a few months down the line, still continues to care. Rob clearly cares about each individual and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which shows in the work he does. Each candidate is not just a number, and the support received from Aaron Wallis has helped me get a career which I truly enjoy.

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Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment are a very friendly and professional recruitment organisation who listen to your needs, work with you and act on your behalf which sets them apart from many of their competitors who in my experience are willing to throw anything at you. We discussed my history, my preferences and my wishes - one opportunity was introduced. It was perfect. I start at the end of June.

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The Recruitment agent I used, Simon, was extremely helpful and really went the extra mile to ensure all of my questions were answered, and that I felt as comfortable and prepared as possible. Very professional company and would definitely recommend to others. Thank you Aaron Wallis!

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Aaron Wallis have provided me with an excellent service, Giles went out of his way to help me preparing for my interview and supported me through all the processes. If you need an agency to give you a fully professional and consultative approach to finding you a new career move, the Aaron Wallis can certainly provide this for you.

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A great recruitment company to work with. Excellent experience with Aaron Wallis through the entire recruitment process. The team was really professional and extremely helpful. Darren was a pleasure to work with. He was friendly, supportive and gave me great advice. Thank you very much!

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Less than two weeks after joining Aaron Wallis I was offered my new job. I got a £10,000 rise in my basic salary, car allowance, a laptop and many other perks, which will help to further my career. I definitely would not have found my dream job without the help of Aaron Wallis.

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