Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hiring A Salesperson

image This article was written by Barry McKinley, SCORE Orange County Business Mentor

Hiring a new employee is always a gamble. Effective interviewing will decease tremendously the chance of a bad hire. Too many business owners or managers hire the first or second person they interview. I wonder if they also got married after meeting their spouse for a half hour. I would be willing to bet NO. So why do they hire so quickly? The best answers are; they probably don’t enjoy interviewing, know how to do it, and hate to waste the time. Remember, with any new hire you are giving them the keys to your business. They can upset customers and fellow employees, they can steal from you, they can waste time (again stealing), and they can hurt your business for years after you terminate them. The average new hire costs you 2-3 times their annual earning when you factor in hiring costs, training, ramp-up time and weak hires.

I am a firm believer that you should look at a number of qualified applicants for a job opening. You may want to run ads in a few different locations. By doing this you will get different degrees of qualified applicants. Once you have done this you hopefully have a stack of resumes. Now you need sort into three piles, (1) Qualified, (2) Maybe, (3) I hope my competitor hires them.

You may want to take stack one and prequalify by phoning them and question them on their resume claims and get a better feel if this is the type of employee that would fit in your company. This also becomes an effective way to weed out those applicants lying or exaggerating on their resume.

Now you have whittled your stack down more, have the remaining potential hires email to you, ‘Why they feel they have what it takes’, ‘What are their outstanding skills.’, ‘Why should you schedule a face to face interview with them.’ If they are not able or willing to do this on a very timely basis, drop them and move on. Remember you are hiring a salesperson and this request will be made daily to them by your customers. You want to find out how creative this applicant can be.

Once again your pile is shrinking, now is the time to schedule your first face to face interview with them. Also request that they come prepared to make a sales presentation on either your company or what they have been selling in the past. Do not except excuses for being unprepared, your customers won’t, why should you? Keep in mind they are salespeople and may be very creative with alibis.

The successful candidates should be brought back in for their second interview. This time you may want to also consider bringing in other management or team players. This is critical as you now have other eyes looking at the candidate and from a different point of view.

The final step is going to be doing a COMPLETE reference check and background check. The cost to do this is nothing compared to what a bad hire may cost.

Before making this person a full time employee if possible have them work with one of your top salespeople for a few days on a trial basis. Problems may be detected that weren’t found previously.

Now that you are satisfied, you have selected the top candidate and they have “no skeletons in the closet”, you can make them a job offer. Be sure that it is in writing and you review each point with them and finally have the candidate sign an acceptance.

Keep in mind that the average “new sales hire” takes 8-10 months to start paying their own way. This time can be shortened by constant training, role playing, product and account review and management support. As always “Time is money”!

Learn to interview like a top pro! Attend our SCORE Workshop, “Hiring Made Easy”.