Be Careful Who You Vote For (Or Choose)

It is not hard to figure out that this is an election year. The networks are already going crazy, the candidates are spewing forth more promises than they can keep and the voters are bleary eyed wondering who is telling the truth. Welcome to politics 2008.

Do any of you see an analogy here with interviewing for a job with a company? Well, there won’t be any networks, that’s for sure but there will be the sales manager (candidate) and the voter (salesperson). Your job, Mr Phelps, will be to choose who is telling the truth.

We’ve all interviewed for new jobs and it isn’t easy to do. Interviewers (sales managers) want to sell the company program; interviewees (salespeople) want to show their mettle and their skills. Both people have a goal but sometimes the goal is counter to the objective, which is hire or be hired for the right position.

If you are a salesperson interviewing look for this:

  • Has there been high salesperson turnover in the company?
  • What are the specific sales characteristics that the company wants? They may not be your strengths.
  • How often has the comp plan changed in the last 5 years?
  • Has the same sales manager been in the position for over 3 years?
  • Where does the company stand in terms of competition?
  • Are there new products in the pipeline?
  • What are the admin responsibilities of the salespeople?
  • What do the top salespeople earn and how long have they earned this income?

If you are a sales manager interviewing look for this:

  • Why did the salesperson leave their prior position?
  • How well does this person sell based on an impromptu sales presentation during the interview?
  • Would their old sales manager want this rep back?
  • How well does this rep describe how they will do business in the first month of being in the territory?
  • What questions does the rep ask relative to compensation, product development, market penetration, turnover and other key questions?
  • What is their personal presence like?

Neither of these sets of questions are in any way complete. The goal of interviewing, regardless of what side of the table you are on, is to tell the truth about either the company or yourself. Magnifying the potential of the company lays the sales manager open for criticism if the future does not pan out. Magnifying the abilities of the salesperson lays the individual open for criticism if the rep does not achieve superior results.

Interviewing is not that big a challenge but both sales managers and salespeople make it a challenge. Lay the cards on the table so there is no doubt or second guessing about the potential of the company/territory or the skills and abilities of the salesperson. If there is a match the two people will figure it out; if the match isn’t there they’ll figure that out as well, as long as truth rules the day.

The Final Thought: Never wear a backward baseball cap to an interview unless applying for the job of umpire. Dan Zevin


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