Hiring new sales reps can be a long and difficult process. First, you have to sort through piles of resumes. From there, you need to conduct endless interviews. And every step of the way, you need to wade through a barrage of unqualified, uninterested, or otherwise unsuitable candidates before finding the few that might work.
If you're searching for a way to reduce time screening sales candidates, look no further. Here a few rules of thumb:
Make Them Work
Include some comprehensive and potentially time-consuming task in the initial application process: rigorous requirements for references, some information or documentation that they’ll likely have to look up instead of having on hand, etc. Make candidates work from early on in the application process.
Any candidates who aren’t serious will self-select out by deciding it’s not worth the extra effort. This screening will reveal applicants who are serious about the position, and willing to put in the work it takes to get it.
When the band Van Halen would tour, every venue they’d play would receive a contract rider stipulating that a bowl of M&Ms should be placed backstage with all of the brown ones removed. While generally seen as an act of celebrity hubris, this rather silly request served an important purpose. The rider also contained a number of complicated technical specifications for the venue and equipment, which was essential for the band’s safety. So if Van Halen found any brown M&Ms backstage, they’d know the rider hadn’t been read or followed carefully, and their safety was at risk.
You can do the same thing to screen out potential candidates. Ask everyone to include some very specific thing in the cover letter: list their favorite book in the third paragraph, put a code word in the subject line of their email, put the whole letter in some unusual font, etc. Then when you go through the applications, you can look immediately for that requirement and eliminate anyone who hasn’t followed it.
Use an Assessment Product
Assessment tests and software are a great way of screening sales candidates. They measure a candidate’s job potential, personality, and other factors, to see if they’d be a good fit for your company. There are a number of assessment products on the market. Some of the most effective include…
• Brooks Talent Index – Brooks Talent Index measures 37 different behaviors, values, and competencies, representing four different facets of a candidate’s personality. Whereas most assessment products measure only one facet of personality, Brooks Talent Index provides a more in-depth, three-dimensional picture of each candidate and what they’ll be like within your company.
• Caliper – Caliper Analytics uses an online assessment tool in conjunction with a human consultant, to help guide you through the process of selecting the right candidate.
• HR Chally – HR Chally matches candidates with your performance requirements for a particular position, to try to predict sales performance and customer satisfaction with that particular candidate.
Use a Placement Firm
Rather than spending valuable time screening sales candidates themselves, many companies hire a placement firm to locate suitable candidates for them. This can be a great tool, but it’s important to be careful. First, do your research and make sure you hire a reputable firm. Second, don’t just take their word about a candidate’s viability. Make them convince you.
Many firms, rather than work to find a candidate that fits with your organization, will simply try to sell you on whichever candidate they’re looking to place next, regardless of their suitability. Ask them about their screening process, and make them go into detail about why this particular person would be a good fit for your company.
It’s also a good idea to use an assessment test on your own, in conjunction with a placement firm. Once they’ve presented their candidate, put them through the assessment to make sure they’re what you’re looking for.
Getting the right candidates to fit with your company and dynamic is important, and this can only happen after you’ve spent some time weeding out the ones who are less of a fit. The longer it takes to get rid of them, the more time (and money) you’re wasting. Using these techniques to reduce time screening sales candidates will help you fill the position faster and make sure you get the right sales reps for your team.
Once you've narrowed it down to just a few candidates, see how to Make the Best of the Interview Process.
Published on April 27, 2015