The Final Step Before Hiring a Salesperson
I equate hiring salespeople to being in Minnesota and standing by the edge of a frozen lake in mid-December. Winter has come and the temp has been in the teens and twenties. Up in northern Minnesota they’ve been ice fishing since August (well not quite) but in Minneapolis the lakes may or not be frozen completely. You really want to walk out on the ice but you’re not sure if it will hold your weight. So you look around for something heavy to heave onto the ice to see what will happen. And, BAM, the rock breaks through and sinks. Hey, maybe I’ll wait!
As analogies (metaphors??) go it won’t win the Pulitzer but it serves to make the point. Before you hire someone you need to test whether the due diligence you’ve done is correct or whether you’ve been fooled by the resume, the assessments and your instincts. Before you hand over the offer letter have this candidate spend a day traveling with another salesperson. Let’s face facts-salespeople know how to interview and there isn’t an assessment on the planet that’s perfect. But salespeople have this sixth sense about other salespeople. They can smell a rat at fifty feet in the local dump! Plus, your sales candidate will let his or her hair down when in the company of your salesperson. Not completely, but enough.
I have experienced situations where job candidates failed the “ride-along” test. When you do this give your salesperson some of the same questions that you asked the candidate during the interview. In all likelihood though your salesperson won’t need many questions. Their innate sense will tell them whether this person will fit into the sales organization and whether the rep has the right stuff to sell for the company.
It’s also a good idea to have the sales candidate spend some time with Marketing or customer service people. Sound like a lot of time spent? Not really, when you’re considering hiring a salesperson. If you get completely different reads from people than yours, it’s time to go back and reinterview. If I were the manager I would talk with the candidate and raise the issues that other people in the company mentioned to me. A good way to start this is by saying, “Jim, I have some concerns. Hopefully you can help me understand them.” Then bring them up and wait for the answers.
Bear in mind though that I am not an HR specialist. There may be better ways to deal with getting this type of feedback from an interviewee. It’s worth the time talking with HR. You never know what potential problems you will avoid.
The Final Thought: “If you have a choice between certainty and hope, choose certainty every time.” Unknown