I recently visited a rest area along the interstate and decided to get a beverage. After the vending machine read the chip of my credit card, it said “Make your selection.” I scanned the contents, and realized I didn’t recognize many of the local brands. I hesitated, then selected a drink with colorful packaging. When I opened the drink in my car, it wasn’t at all what I expected.
When a manager selects a new salesperson, it is much the same way, we can be deceived by the exterior packaging into buying what’s unknown inside. Take the typical resume. Anyone who is serious about applying for a job can message even mediocre experiences into a polished resume. And who among us has not been deceived by the physical appearance of a candidate as they presented themselves for an interview, and jumped to conclusions about their sales ability?
The easiest way to get underneath the packaging to see what is inside is to conduct a disciplined selection process. First, use a telephone interview to screen out candidates who won’t be a fit. Ask the salesperson to sell you on inviting them in for a face-to-face interview. If they can’t do that, they won’t be able to sell your product or service either. Second, conduct a behavioral based interview and see if the candidate has demonstrated the behaviors in the past they will need to be successful in your job. Ask questions to see if they have done their homework to learn about your organization, and your products and services. If they don’t have a curiosity about what you do, it is unlikely they will be interested in exploring your customer’s needs either.
Next, consider a personality profile test. We use Caliper at Business Performance Group, but your human resource department may have a similar assessment. Compare your candidates to the ideal profile for your position. Okay, no one is a perfect match, but major deviations should generate serious concerns. The ideal telephone sales profile is different from the ideal face-to-face profile: telephone salespeople don’t have visual clues, the job is more repetitive, and the customer base is typically far larger.
Finally, ask the candidate to shadow one of your current salespeople. Do they ask your salesperson thoughtful questions, or do they look bored, disinterested and unengaged? Does your salesperson think the candidate will be a cultural fit? Does the candidate seem interested in your products and services, or do they seem mildly bored with your literature and online information? Is this just another job for the candidate, simply because they need one, or are they applying because they want a career?
As a manager, if you select the right team, your job will be challenging, but doable. If you select the wrong team, it will be impossible.
Now, make your selection with confidence!