COMMON MISTAKES IN SELECTING SALESPEOPLE

These points from Boardroom Reports were taken from a talk by Dr. Arthur Witkin, chief psychologist at Personal Science Center, New York. These are basic hiring principles we've heard in the past, but they bear repeating once again.

1. Sales Managers, who usually hire the salespeople, too frequently choose a person who's a copy carbon of themselves. In doing that, they overlook other good candidates. Traits to look for: verbal, social, and sales intelligence; a very high energy level (self-starter and the ability to keep running); forcefulness; some extroversion.

Don't waste time looking for something as intangible as loyalty. If it exists at all, it doesn't exist at the start of a relationship, and is so unmeasurable. Loyalty is usually the result of good leadership.

2. One common mistake is assessing the candidate's potential by basing it on past performance. You can't know enough detail and with enough reliability what the candidate has done in the past. His or her statements and those of references can't be relied on. The best contacts are the candidate's immediate three past sales supervisors. Use the phone to ensure spontaneity. Prepare open-ended questions in advance: "What did you have to criticize this person for most often? What did others think he or she did best? Most poorly?" Be systematic and write down everything that's said.

The old joke has meaning: A bad sales person claims 20 years' experience when, in fact, it's really one years' experience 20 times over (because he or she failed to learn anything in the first year).

3. Don't waste valuable time by going over background data with the applicant. This is the wrong purpose for an interview. Use the resume, application blank, or references check to get this information. Use the interview to put applicants through their paces. Ask ambiguous, stressful, and difficult questions to see how they deal with them. (A good salesperson will seize these eagerly - and may even turn them in his or her favor.)

Look for persuasiveness, visual impact, verbal facility, and warmth. Find out how well motivated the candidate is by his or her responses to questions like: "What's the hardest thing you've done? What would you like most to do ten years from today? What have you done in the past that gave you the greatest sense of satisfaction?"

4. Don't apply the Golden Rule to the sales selection process. Applicants don't have your interests at heart. They want the job whether or not they're qualified for it. Keep the interview an adversarial proceeding.

Look for strengths and weaknesses. If you can't find any weaknesses, that's a good clue you're not looking closely enough and are probably missing a lot. In fact, since it's very difficult to list those traits that make a successful salesperson, it's often wiser to isolate the negatives - the impediments to success - and aim for a candidate who is free of most of them.

 

 

Please contact us with any questions or feedback at (505) 603-5503