Give Them Something To Talk About
Not that many years ago there was a song with the same title. Great song although I do not remember who wrote it. But it does have some significance when managers are interviewing sales candidates. Think about this for a second. When you interview a person there is a lot of give and take between the sales candidate and the person interviewing. You tell the candidate about the company; they tell you about how great they are; you do assessments; you call references. All of these activities are good and they must be done.
There is another component to the interview that managers should do. Have the sales candidate sell you something. Some managers do this and some don’t or won’t. I believe that it should be done on every in-person interview that you do. Why? Because you get to see and hear how a salesperson deals with a selling situation.
There is one caveat to doing this. Having someone replicate a selling situation does not give the interviewer license to rake the interviewee over the hot coals of sadistic objections. There is no point in making the “created sales call” so difficult that the salesperson quakes in their wing tips or Pradas!
Assuming you want to go the sales call within the interview route, when do you do it? I would wait until the interview is about three quarters over. That gives both you and the sales candidate time to understand more about each other’s individual styles and personalities. Again, the goal is not to “stump the candidate”. Make the event reasonable.
So, what exactly is the goal for this exercise? In my opinion there are several:
I want to hear the process the salesperson uses to execute the sales call.
I want to hear the types of questions the salesperson develops on the spot.
I want to get a sense for how the salesperson deals with silence.
How much does the rep talk vs. listen? (In an artificial environment like this the tendency is for people to talk. The question is, will that be their style during real sales calls?)
Does the salesperson close for the sale?
The easiest way to start this process is to give the salesperson a pen, a cup, a pad of paper, pencil-anything that’s handy. Tell them that you want them to sell you that particular item and they have 5-10 minutes to do that. You need to say nothing else.
The Final Thought: “If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” John Maxwell