The first key to attracting and retaining solid sales talent, and sometimes the most overlooked, is understanding what makes your top performers unique. I don’t mean understanding that they bring in the most revenue, they make the most calls, etc.
It’s digging deeper to figure out what makes them tick and what in their personality drives and motivates them to be successful.
Use Sales Profile Tests
To figure this out, I recommend using one of the multitude of sales personality tests out there and giving the test to your entire team. We’ve used the CTS Sales Profile for years to gauge our reps on traits such as deadline motivation, assertiveness, compassion, belief in others and optimism.
Once complete, you’ll most likely find your top performers share common scores on certain traits. Then, for every sales candidate you interview moving forward, have them take the test and see how they stack up.
One word of caution though: don’t use these results as the only indicator of whether a sales candidate will be successful or not. Past performance is still probably the most accurate barometer of how a person will perform in the future. One of our recent hires, who’s off to one of the strongest starts we’ve had in company history, had some vastly different trait scores than some of our other top performers. But we used their sales profile data and score to help us formulate questions, and to have a specific area to focus on in the second interview. If we had made a decision on whether or not to hire this candidate based solely on their sales profile score, we would have passed on an incredible talent.
Another benefit to sales personality tests like this, is they provide sales managers guidance on how best to help their new team members succeed, and what area to focus on right out of the gate.
Ask Targeted Questions
There’s a big issue with the current hiring process for sales reps these days, from my perspective, and it’s asking too many surface-level interview questions. When interviewing, I recommend concentrating on 3-5 core questions, and then really diving into each. For example, a questions I always ask is “Could you provide me an example of a time where you demonstrated high initiative in a previous position?” Then, follow up by asking when did it occur, how long did it last, who else was involved, what problems did you run into, etc. By using behavioral interview questions like these, you’ll get a great sense of that individual and their poise under fire after digging in really deep.
Check References. Every Time.
Don’t underestimate the value of references. Call all references, and if they don’t have glowing recommendations on that candidate, or can’t tell you why the candidate would be a good hire, that’s a big warning sign. Always try to reach direct supervisors or peers. Whether it’s fueled by a fear of litigation, or something else, in recent years, human resources departments have started to provide only the most basic information about former employees. When contacting HR you’re likely to only get confirmation of dates your candidate was employed and what their job title was. However, getting in touch with their former colleagues will probably going to yield much more useful information on their work performance, attitude and habits.