The Sales Evangelist

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Kristie Jones on Hiring ProcessThe hiring process can be a challenge for many. There’s the temptation of hiring people from the gut when in fact, there needs to be a formal hiring process in place that works for every company regardless of its size. 

Kristie Jones works with early-stage startups and helps these companies do three things – process, strategies, and people. She has been in the staff leadership industry for 20 years and as part of her consulting services, she offers companies the strategies for hiring the right people. Kristie now manages her own company, the Sales Acceleration Group, and has helped funded and non-funded startups in the Midwest for the last four years. Her services are focused on the strategies that companies can use to hire the right people. 

Hiring from the gut

Hiring from the gut is basically hiring based on first impressions. In the sales world, it’s very much like sending a contract to your prospect without doing a discovery call. Salespeople follow the sales process in vetting and finding prospects. In the same manner, there is also a process that sales leaders should follow in vetting and finding the right candidates to join their companies. 

 

  • The ideal candidate

 

The process begins by deciding on your ideal candidate profile, which includes their competencies and skills. As a salesperson, you take the time to figure out who your ideal customers are by spending time with them.  The same goes for hiring new salespeople. You want to invest the time in figuring out what competencies are most important to the success of your company, and build interview questions around those competencies. It’s also imperative to build your ideal candidate profile with business culture, core education, and relevant experience in mind. 

 

  • Candidate discovery 

 

In this stage, you identify their experience. The resume is only a piece of paper that details a person’s information. In the hiring process, you need to be asking the candidates open-ended behavioral-based questions. 

 

  • Make them an educated consumer 

 

This stage of the hiring process entails flipping the table on your candidate and allowing them to interview you.  This isn’t done by everyone but it’s a strategy to start a great working relationship, even at the interview stage. This point in the interview allows the candidate to see whether or not they will be happy working in your organization by getting to ask questions that are important to them. 

When hiring the right people to join your sales team, you can’t just hire from the gut and have the expectation of longevity. You need a formal hiring process in place that works.  This process includes understanding your ideal candidate profile, preparing your discovery questions, and lastly, giving the candidates an opportunity to become the interviewer.

Knowing your ideal candidate 

Experience is important in hiring the ideal candidate. Look for people who have a good track record of success. It’s your job as a sales leader to discover the candidates’ competencies, characteristics, and traits that have helped them become successful. There are many ways for a business to find the right people to hire. 

Kristie has used recruiters to line up job candidates for her clients but she’s also helped her clients build and post a strong job description through a paid LinkedIn ad. Through these efforts, they’ve been getting between 50-70 resumes within the first two weeks of posting a job on LinkedIn. 

It’s not necessary to utilize recruiters when you are looking for lower-level sales reps but they are a good resource if a company is looking for specialized sales leaders. 

When posting a job on LinkedIn, the most attractive posts will include the following information:

  • Job Title – Many companies use the titles Account Manager and Account Executive interchangeably. When you are looking for a new salesperson for your company, it’s a good idea to specify the job titles that are specifically related to your industry or niche. 

 

  • Length of time you’ve been in the business

 

  • The markets you use
  • How successful your company has been
  • A short description of the job
  • Transparencies and accountabilities – you need to state what their job will look like and be upfront about the things they will be doing. 
  • Compensation range

 

 

A great job post will be gender-neutral and have a wow factor. Impress the best candidates with your company’s values and share the perks and bonuses that will come if they choose to work for you.  If your company offers free lunches, happy hours, personal development training, or quarterly healthy bonuses, make sure you say so! 

Candidate discovery 

When Kristie first works with her clients they go through a list of competencies and pick several that are most important to work for that specific company. They then create their behavioral-based interview questions from the competencies they’ve chosen. The questions will vary for each company and will be influenced by the type of company it is and its core values. Questions about accountability can be very telling about a potential candidate. For example, “Why did your  previous quarterly goals?” Kristie wants to know if a candidate will take accountability for their actions.  

When hiring for a startup, Kristie is looking for a willow, not an oak, a person who bends but doesn’t break. Questions or prompts that uncover this trait might include, “Tell me about  a time when you made a personal sacrifice for an employer.” Another question might be, “How you stay on track when you have competing priorities?” Look for the candidates’ perseverance and objective judgment. 

Flip the table

The last phase of the formal hiring process is flipping the table. This simply means letting the candidate become the interviewer. Give them the opportunity to go through the discovery process by seeing what questions they have about the company. Allow them to spend time with your current employees in a variety of departments. When you flip the table, you get to stop asking questions and allow the candidate to discover if they really want to work for the company.

 After posting the job on LinkedIn and collecting all the responses, you’ll typically pick 10 candidates to conduct a phone interview.  This is a critical stage where you can ask them questions to gauge which candidates will be chosen to come in for a face-to-face, behavioral-based interview. Kristie runs a sales profile test before flipping the table on a candidate by using a test she says is a combination ACT/ Myers-Briggs personality test. The first section is a verbal and math test. This is to test their verbal and reasoning ability as well as numeric reasoning. In addition, Kristie has also developed the ideal candidate profile for SDRs and it can be used to hire anyone from sales reps to sales leaders. Once the results come in, there’s an opportunity to go over the results with the candidate to discuss the fit. 

The Hiring Process

During a typical hiring process, Kristie invests about four hours conducting a face-to-face interview. She goes through an hour in reviewing the test results and another 30 – 45 minutes interviewing. Afterward, the candidate is given the chance to work with a sales rep or one of the team members. At the end of the day, Kristie asks the group what they’ve learned.

The process is long but following this formal hiring process, you’ll get fewer mis-hires in your company. 

A sales manager looking for a sales rep must know what the company is looking for. When people don’t have a formal hiring process in place, they can mistakenly hire solely based on a gut feeling. Having a formal process can save you from any legal troubles and provide a better quality employee. The process helps you hire the best fit because you already know the right answers to the questions. Implement this process in your organization and let everyone understand they all have a role to play.  The first impression starts with the first person the candidate meets. 

“Stop Hiring From Your “Gut” – Putting a Formal Hiring Process In Place That Works” episode resources

Catch up with Kristie Jones via her email address kjones@salesaccelerationgroup.com. You can check out the list of competencies and some starter behavior-based interview questions that you can use in your own hiring process. Check it out on salesaccelerationgroup.com/TSE. 

You can also reach out to Donald via LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for any sales concerns. 

This episode is brought to you in part by TSE Certified Sales Training Program. It’s a course designed to help new and struggling sellers to master the fundamentals of sales and close more deals. Sign up now and get the first two modules for free! You can also call us at (561) 570-5077. 

This podcast is also brought to you in part by Reveal the Revenue Intelligence podcast. It’s about utilizing data to make business decisions instead of just guessing your way through major sales decisions. Visit gong.io for their podcast. 

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