The Anatomy of the Perfect Sales Hiring Process

BY C. Lee Smith
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If you’ve been using friends and family members to source candidates to fill your open sales rep position, the results may not have been what you wanted. You’ll get better results by setting up the perfect sales hiring process. Sticking to a formal process will help you maintain control over how recruiting budgets are spent and who is getting interviewed. Here are the suggested steps in the perfect sales hiring process.

  1. Write the Job Description
  2. Recruit in the Proper Channels
  3. Screen the Resumes
  4. Give Assessments
  5. Interview the Candidates
  6. Evaluate Mock Demos

Let’s take a look at the details to consider in each step.

Write the Job Description

When you have an opening in your sales department, take advantage of the opportunity. Some of your current reps might want to change their responsibilities or their accounts. Make the changes that seem appropriate and then write the job description for the new person based on what your department needs. You may be recruiting for a sales rep with expertise in business development, or you might want to add someone with a sales engineer background who can support the rest of the team.

Recruit in the Proper Channels

There’s nothing wrong with networking when you’re searching for talent. Over 56% of managers told us that reaching out through their network is their preferred method of finding candidates. Around 50% of managers also use employee referral programs and job boards. If you use your own network and employee referral program, be wary of the halo effect. A highly praised candidate may be doing well in another organization. But that doesn’t mean they will do well at your company.

Screen the Resumes

In some industries and during some parts of the economic cycle, businesses will be flooded with applications for open positions. These days, it’s easy for candidates to send their resumes to be considered for dozens of open positions. Be prepared to screen resumes quickly. Look for candidates who have the kind of experience you’re looking for. Candidates that have personalized parts of their resume or application to match your stated requirements may be worth a second look.

About 45% of sales managers do a phone screen to ensure that a candidate, at least on the surface, is worth spending more time on. During these calls, you can gauge interest level and determine whether they are willing to go to the next level.

Give Assessments

At this point in the perfect sales hiring process, managers begin to invest significant time. You can improve your hiring efficiency by asking candidates to take an assessment before you set up a formal in-​person or video interview. Having the candidate take the assessment at this point in the process serves two purposes. First, you’ll know whether your candidate is serious enough in the position or not. Second, you’ll have assessment results to use during the formal interview.

Interview the Candidates

Few candidates will be a perfect match for your open position. Your job will be to find the person who is the best fit. Candidates are typically on their best behavior during an interview. And they will say what they think you want to hear. Using the assessment results, ask specific questions about details that concern you. If you’re looking for a discovery superstar, but your candidate’s assessment shows mediocre scores for that sales skill, dig deeper. Some individuals just need skill development, especially in the form of sales coaching. When assessment results show that a sales rep is highly coachable, and when you don’t mind coaching, your department may benefit from such a hire.

Evaluate Mock Demos

A sales rep’s success often rides on whether they are able to carry off a presentation or demo. Put your candidates through this test. The content of their demo will show how well the candidate has prepared. Does their proposed solution address the key pain points you described when you gave the assignment? Do they possess the right energy level and demeanor to fit with the clients who typically buy your products?

The Perfect Sales Hiring Process

The perfect sales hiring process requires taking multiple steps, in sequence. You’ll likely need to tweak parts of this process to make it work for your organization. After you onboard each new hire, take time to reflect on what helped and what slowed down your process. Make adjustments before you need to hire your next sales rep.