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How to Guarantee You Hire the Right Salesperson

This post was guest-written by Miche Rayment of The Hire Effect.

You’ve blessedly managed to make a clean break from what you now refer to as “the sales mis-hire.” In fact, everyone in the company is calling it that—over lunch, at the coffee machine, and after meetings. It’s got you on edge. 

Now you're hoping to find a better replacement VP of Sales. You're sitting with 20 resumes that rose to the top of all the applicantsthirteen candidates are in the Passable pile and seven in the Stellar pile.

Ugh, the last guy was in the stellar pile.

Cheer up. This time you’re using a smart hiring strategy:

  • You have a hiring team to own and work the process.
  • You've constructed an obstacle course (THE Unique Flow™) that every candidate will go through as you narrow your candidate list.
  • You and your hiring team are going to diligently watch for behaviors that are a good match, not just ask questions.

The hardest part of this smart hiring strategy is having the courage to acknowledge a bad fit and cut them looseespecially if you genuinely like them.

THE Unique Flow of Smart Hiring

Your Unique Flow is a four-step hiring process that includes an assignment with each step. Your team will be watching carefully to see how the candidates behave. THE Unique Flow you’ve chosen could turn out something like this:

Step 1 – The account manager on your hiring team conducts a 10-minute phone screen with all twenty candidates. He’s watching to see:

  • Can the candidate communicate clearly?
  • Were they curious about what the job entails?
  • Are they trying to do everything possible to make it into the next step?

Eighteen pass. Ask all 18 to send you a sample sales presentation by a specified date and time.

Step 2 – Sixteen candidates are timely and send the right material. Your COO and the account manager review the presentations.

  • Was the message clear and compelling?
  • Did it look professional?

Eleven are acceptable.

Schedule each of the 11 for individual panel interviews with the COO and two sales staffers, whom you’ve trained to look for the behavior you want. Ask candidates to bring the names of a dozen prospects they will pursue if hired.

Step 3 – Ten candidates show up at the right place and time with the dozen names. During their panel interview, ask them to qualify why each of the dozen fits your client profile. 

  • Were a dozen leads qualified?
  • Was there a match for your culture?
  • Did they exhibit the level of communication skills needed?

Your team identifies the top three candidates.

Schedule each of the finalists for a final panel interview. Ask them to be prepared to present their 90-day ramp-up plan. The 90-day plan will have great practical value as a way to kick-start the onboarding process for the individual you end up hiring.

Step 4 – All three candidates show up with their plans. You’ve invited one of your most trusted and valued customers to help you and your executive team in choosing the final candidate. Who else would know better what a great sales lead would look like for you?

  • Was their presentation compelling? (Did they sell themselves well?)
  • Did they know your company well?
  • Did they make assumptions that were out of line?
  • Did their ramp-up plan sound doable, reasonable, and realistic?
  • Was the presentation actionable?
  • What kind of goals did they set for themselvesaggressive, reserved?

Two candidates rise to the top.

Ask the two candidates to provide a simple one-page case about why they want the responsibility of VP of Sales and why they are the best choice. Assign a deadline.

Congratulations on Your Successful Hire!

Consider only the candidates who provide a well-reasoned, compelling case (on time!). It will be a tough choice, but no matter what, you know this time it won’t be a mis-hire.

Next Steps

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miche.pngMiche Rayment has owned and run businesses for over 20 years. Her experience in economic development consulting and working with throusands of growth stage businesses gives her a unique opportunity to develop and bring to the work The Hire Effect System™.