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Grow Your Business Sales & Marketing

How to Hire the Perfect Salesperson

hiring-sales-person-11090902 Credit: Dreamstime.com

It hard enough finding a good employee, but finding one who is also a good salesperson can be especially challenging. It's not the kind of thing you can do on the fly.

"Having a systematic, ongoing process for hiring will give you a clearer path for hiring the right people for the job," said Kathi Graham-Leviss, the founder of XB Consulting, an executive coaching and business consulting firm and author of "The Perfect Hire: A Tactical Guide to Hiring, Developing, and Retaining Top Sales Talent" (Entrepreneur Press, July 20, 2011). "And a well-vetted process will not only help you select the right candidate, but also creates an environment that will develop and train new sales talent."

She gives BusinessNewsDaily readers a few ideas on how to attract and hire the best sales people.

Define the job. You can only attract the right fit and later create a plan to develop and evaluate performance when you have a clearly defined position. Many times someone in the company dusts off an old job description that could span a range of positions. Instead, develop a customized description that includes soft skills and problem-solving skills to attract top sales performers. Interview those who know the job and don't forget to outline realistic performance standards.

Benchmark the job. Using assessments to benchmark the job will increase the accuracy of your job definition and match the best candidates to the job. Identify the soft skills and problem-solving skills that are most important to the job and determine at what level they are performed by those who are successful on the job. Assess the "three c's" — competencies, cognitive abilities and core values — to provide insight into the best predictors of on-the-job success.

Screen and interview. Rather than wait until you have an opening, build a network of candidates and a program for consistently searching for them. Scan résumés for accomplishments, including specific sales figures, positive business results, computer and technology skills and involvement in competitive activities, to narrow the talent pool. Screen candidates before face-to-face interviews, and prep interviewers with the job description, performance standards you developed, candidate résumé, and "three c" questions based on the job profile.

When interviewing, be on time and provide a comfortable environment for your candidate. Create an interviewer evaluation form to compile responses, and take detailed notes so you can fairly and accurately assess candidates later.

Assess your top candidates. In the same way you develop interview questions that cover many different aspects to determine a person's qualifications and fit for the position, you want an assessment that provides multiple perspectives. Use competency, critical thinking and core values assessment results to compare your top candidates and support your hiring decision. Look for assessments that allow you to leverage reports that make it easy to interpret results and compare multiple candidates.

Remember, for legal reasons, only use assessments after conducting the interviews and never for initial candidate screening.

Develop your sales talent. Hiring isn't complete until the new hire has a development plan that's part of the organizational ongoing development process. Understanding the attributes you discover through hiring and development assessments can better position managers to adapt the work environment to best support and retain top performers. Managers can also use assessments to analyze the current sales team for insight into gaps, and  identify team and individual strengths along with areas for improvement. How to Build a Business in a Crowded Market