Hiring Top Performers Post-COVID Recovery
Hiring top performers has always been the lifeblood of any sales organization. COVID has changed sales forever. The 3 most important questions that we need to address when making hiring decisions for a sales position are:
- Can the candidate effectively sell virtually?
- Is the candidate agile enough to adapt based on the customer’s needs?
- Does the candidate have the technical skills to sell using technology?
Unfortunately, most sales organizations have not adapted their hiring process to identify top performers in the post-COVID reality.
Traditional Hiring Challenges
The biggest problem that managers face is identifying which candidate has the potential to be a top performer. Most salespeople are good at selling themselves, and top performers don’t always stand out in interviews. Despite good interviewing skills, many sales managers are guilty of making the following hiring mistakes:
- Hiring people they like
- Settling for mediocrity to fill the vacancy
- Hiring experienced and industry knowledge over attitude
- Lack of a systematic process
- Not leveraging the power of science
Do your sales managers have the tools and processes to systematically identify top sales performers from those who are pretenders? Recognizing the difference is challenging!
Your Hiring Process is Key
Success in attracting, selecting, and hiring top performers depends more on a company’s process than the manager’s ability to hire. Like most companies, some hiring processes exist in-house that are sort of known and sort of used. This hiring process leads to mediocre results. Without a clear process, your sales managers will adopt their own approach and ultimately achieve sub-optimal results.
The Hiring Process Post-COVID Should Consist of 4 Important Components
- Fit Interview
- Behavioural Interview
- Virtual Selling Role Play
- Scientific Assessment
1: Fit Interview
As the title says, the goal of the initial interview is to assess fit. The beauty of the Fit Interview is that even in the absence of excellent interviewing skills, the sales manager reviewing a candidate’s resume can ask questions about work history, education, personal interests, and accomplishments. The essential element in determining whether a candidate fits your culture and work environment. Is the candidate well-suited for a career in sales, does the candidate fit the existing sales team, and would you be able to work well with this candidate?
2: Behavioral Interview
After determining whether the pool of potential candidates would be a good fit for you and your organization, you bring back the top candidates for a behavioural 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 behaviours. Each sales manager should use this list and ask each candidate the same questions.
The interviewer should take notes and rate the candidate’s response to each question. After each behavioural interview, the sales manager should rate each candidate.
Once all interviews are complete, the manager can reflect on each candidate’s competencies. Some companies also may conduct additional interviews with other managers and HR during this step. The goal is to determine if the candidate has demonstrated the competencies to function at a high level, as past successes are usually considered to indicate future success.
3: The Missing Link: Virtual Selling Role Play
Once you have narrowed down your candidates based on behavioural interviews, it is essential to see how proficient they are at selling online. With the shift to hybrid selling, we need to ensure that potential candidates are equally adept at selling virtually.
Before making any final decisions, I recommend that you incorporate a 20-minute role-play on Zoom to observe how comfortable and engaging they are on a virtual sales call. If you sell to a group of people, include other colleagues on the call. Make the role play as realistic as possible. Give them a scenario based on what they would be doing in their role and see how they perform.
4: Leverage Predictive Science
Once you have narrowed the pool down to 1-2 potential candidates, the use of psychometric tests adds tremendous value to the hiring process. When hiring, a manager must understand that there are two possible issues in the interview process 1) that top performers don’t always stand out in interviews and 2) that poor performers are adept at putting forth a favourable impression in the interview process.
I recommend using The Predictor of Potential™ (POP7™) to help take the guesswork out of hiring top salespeople.
The Predictor of Potential (POP 7.0) is a normative psychometric tool that helps an organization conduct better online recruiting, selection, succession planning and coaching. It is a comprehensive approach to the selection and development of salespeople based on advanced statistical methods used for 40 years with a database of over 30 million assessments.
The POP 7.0 provides very useful information about the individual’s fit for a sales role. The POP 7.0 enables managers to select top performers, focus training for each rep, and coach to the specific needs of the sales rep.
Predictor of Potential POP 7.0
- Identifies candidates with sales success DNA
- Provides a customized prediction model for any organization
- Predicts performance and retention
- Assesses prospecting potential and closing style
- Measures coachability and communication style
- Measures sales attitudes, confidence and listening style
- Provides a management snapshot that identifies future sales managers
- Includes extensive post-hire feedback for both manager and candidate
The POP 7.0 is the instrument of choice for many competitive sales forces. Your hiring process must include leveraging one of the world’s leading sales employee selection tools, proven effective in predicting performance and retention.
With new realities, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure that sales reps you hire can effectively sell in a virtual environment. It is also critical to utilize science to view potential candidates objectively. 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.