Hiring Top Performers
Whether you are starting a new sales force or hiring a new rep to fill a vacancy, the four principles of the STAR Process will help you select top sales performers. As the head of sales it doesn’t matter if you are involved directly in the process, what matters, is that you have in place a top-notch sales selection system. Without a clear process, your sales managers will each adopt their own approach and ultimately achieve sub-optimal results. Like most companies, some kind of process exists in-house that is sort of known and sort of used. Thus, the source of mediocre results.
There are four key principles associated with a top-notch hiring process. These include being systematic, knowing what top performers in your organization look like, having strong assessment tools to make scientific decisions and that the process is rigorously followed.
S – Systematic
T – Top performer
A – Assessments
R – Rigors
Companies/sales managers that have well-defined steps to follow when choosing candidates will get better results. This involves taking each candidate through the same steps and asking the same questions.
Step 1: Fit Interview
As the title says, the goal of the initial interview is to assess fit. The beauty of this is that even in the absence of great interviewing skills, the sales manager reviewing a candidate’s resume can ask questions about work history, education, personal interests, and accomplishments. The essential element here is to determine whether a candidate fits your culture and work environment. And if the candidate does fit the existing sales team, would you be able to work well with him or her? Is the candidate well-suited for a career in sales?
Step 2: Behavioral Interview
After you have determined whether or not the pool of potential candidates would be a good fit for you and your organization, you bring back the best candidates for a behavioral interview. This is a more formal interview with structured questions. The key here is a pre-established list of questions related to the organization’s core sales rep skills competencies and behaviors. Each sales manager is expected to use the list and ask each candidate the same questions.
For each question, the interviewer should take notes and rate the candidate’s response. After each behavioral interview, the sales manager should rate each candidate.
The goal is to determine if the candidate has demonstrated the competencies to function at a high level since past successes usually are considered are an indication of future success. Once all interviews are complete the manager can reflect on each candidate’s competencies. Some companies also may conduct additional interviews by other managers and HR during this step.
Step 3: Psychometric Test
Once you have narrowed the pool down to 1-3 potential candidates, the use of psychometric tests adds value to the process. There are two possible issues: 1) that top performers don’t always stand out in interviews and 2) that poor performers are very adept at putting forth a favourable impression in the interview process.
Adopting and following a consistent, multi-step process will ensure that your sales managers can determine who a top performer will be before making a hiring decision.
It is highly unlikely to hire a sales superstar unless your company has done in-house research on the background, years of experience, competencies, and characteristics of your top performers. For example; in a technical sell the question to ask is if there’s a correlation between a business degree vs. a technical degree regarding sales rep performance?
Have you determined what the top 3 competencies that a candidate must have?
|List of Skills, Behaviors, and Competencies|
|Achieve driven||Relationship Building|
|Account management||Sales administration|
|Business Acumen||Time & Territory Management|
Step 4: Assessments:
During an interview using a psychometric assessment brings a level of science into the hiring process. Many companies forgo these low cost and highly predictive tests in the hiring process because they just don’t understand the incredible value they bring.
Many validated profiling tools in the marketplace will measure key source traits associated with success in sales and predict performance. These tools are excellent at identifying potential red flags missed in the behavioral interviews. Finding the so-called, holes provides the hiring sales manager to ask more questions and dig deeper to either validate or negate the red flags. This component adds a second sobering look at the candidate that complements the interview process. The tool I have successfully used for the last 15 years is the Personal Orientation Profile.
As head of sales during the hiring process it is incumbent that the rigours be used in the following areas:
- Learn from past hires and examine your existing sales force and study behaviors, competencies, and profiles of your top and bottom performers so you can create a clear profile.
- That means your sales managers:
- Understand and follow each step in the process.
- Are clear on what a top performer looks like regarding background, experience, competencies, and behaviors
- Understand how to interpret and utilize the profiling tool
- Be well trained on conducting and interviewing
Staffing your sales force with the right people can make all the difference in performance results.
Creating a well-defined and rigorous hiring process is critical to creating a STAR sales team.