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I have met with hundreds of salespeople who appeared viable, only to see them stumble badly in their sales interview. Often, they were candidates whose resumes were full of relevant experience, came highly recommended or were great at quickly establishing relationships. Here are some reasons as to why this might happen.
Sometimes, experience provides hiring managers with a false sense of security, believing that candidates will quickly ramp up, require less training and present with credibility early in their tenure. However, without proper vetting, experience can be very misleading. Lacking a clear understanding of whether the candidate possesses the required competencies for the specific role and day-to-day responsibilities, experience which appears to be strengths could actually be weaknesses in disguise. Expect challenges if the competition, decision makers, pricing strategy, size of company and resistance from their prior selling environment are different from your selling environment. For example, salespeople who have great industry background in a long sales cycle will likely have a hard time adapting to a shorter sales cycle.
One of the biggest challenges occurs with something we call, Why Buy vs Why Me?This occurs with salespeople who have sold products or services that customers will purchase, but they must determine who to buy it from. Getting those salespeople to sell products or services where the question is "Why buy at all?" is extremely difficult. In the services space this is particularly problematic. Salespeople that have sold “why me?" focus on differentiating the value of the solution instead of helping their prospects discover that they have challenges that need to be addressed.
Many companies, particularly later in the selection process when multiple interviewers get involved, spend too much time “selling” the opportunity. For salespeople who are good at relationship creation, this significantly limits their ability to gather critical information. This can result in hiring people who are good at bonding and rapport but not consultative selling. The capacity to build strong relationships quickly is critically important but it’s only step one in getting people to open up and talk honestly.
There are many salespeople who are students of selling. Whether this comes from training, reading or other sources it’s a good thing but knowing what to do is not the same as doing it. For example, think about the last time a salesperson had the correct strategy prior to a sales call and then returned having done something completely different. Candidates who are articulate and knowledgeable will sound great but frequently their expertise is more theoretical than behavioral.
Imagine a candidate who comes referred, quickly and effectively builds relationships, and knows your industry. Which of the following is your starting point?
- They look like a great candidate, or
- I need to ignore all of that and interview them as if I know nothing about them?
I’m all for having a candidate referral program but that’s as far as it should go. That leaves talent as the primary quality you should seek.
I know you may be a New England Patriots hater, but their coach, Bill Belichick, says he looks for three things:
- Love of football
- Work effort
In addition to a love of sales it’s essential that new hires have significant passion to improve. Passion combined with humility with help salespeople work through the highs and lows of selling, open the door to impactful coaching, improve your sales culture and help lower resistance with prospects.
Would you benefit from having more salespeople with these traits? Accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments will help you select salespeople with the sales core competencies required for success in the role. These are the best.