Hire smart!

In 2011, there are so many different “flavors” of ISRs in the marketplace, what steps can a manager take to make sure to hire the “right” candidates for the particular role you are hiring for?  The tips below will be applicable for quota carrying ISR roles, and likely most other type of ISR roles as well.

Kevin Gaither, Director of Inside Sales at Focus.com read about 8 books on this subject, and shared some of the takeaways at the recent American Association of Inside Sales Professionals Event in San Francisco.  And a few sales executive mentors have also shared advice over the years–below find some of the takeaways.

  • Start the interview by making the candidate at ease–take off your coat, can I get you something to drink?  You want to make sure that they aren’t canned and you get a read of the “real person”.
  • Ask the candidate the question, “tell me about a time you were competitive recently”.  See what you get in response.  You are looking for a true competitor and they can tell you many many times they were competitive.
  • “Tell me a time you had to sacrifice for a role?”  This one shows you their motivation level.
  • One thing you MUST find out, is the candidate intelligent, and do they have a great work ethic?  A good way to learn about their “smarts”… Ask the question, “when did you graduate from high school?”  Then look at college graduation date.  Is it 4 years, 4.5 years, 6-7 years?  Probably not a good sign of someone who is dedicated and smart if it took 8 years.  Or even worse, they list the college misrepresenting that they actually graduated.  Be careful. (note: this feedback came from an SVP I worked for, it’s not always accurate, but good information to understand the person you are considering hiring).
  • “Stick-to-ativeness”.  One of the best leaders I’ve worked for, looks for stick-to-ativeness.  Do they commit to a company for 3 years, or do they jump every 6 months?  Sometimes there are good reasons, but 5 jobs in a row, < 1 year, really?
  • Another good one: “what are you good at”?
  • And “sell me this pen”?

There are a lot of techniques that you should use when interviewing candidates.  Consider that the cost of hiring a bad candidate is the time you invest in their on-boarding, recruiter fees if there is one, and opportunity cost of low revenues for the territory they are in.  It takes time to learn this skill.  Learn from your leaders who are good at it.  Make sure to compare notes after every interview with your leader.  At first, you and your executive leader may be far off – from definitely hire to open, but not sure.  Over time, as you take some short courses, read a book or two, you should get to be very close to the same answer every time.

The grading I learned from someone ex-Google HR:

+ (hire)

Open +

Open –

– (don’t hire)

If you can have people doing the interviews for you focus on specific areas/questions, and then rate the candidate in these areas with the scale above, it works very well.  It’s very obvious when 5 interviewers say +, +, + , Open +, +.  You should hire that person!  +, -, Open -, -, -, probably not a good hire.

Good luck out there!

4 thoughts on “Hire smart!

  1. Making the person feel at ease and asking questions that don’t give them time to think work best. Their instinctive first reactions tell an interviewer the most about who they really are as a person.

    I love the question, “Pretend that I hire you and you report to me. Before I leave on a long international trip I ask you do work on an important deal. While I’m gone the phone rings – a call from a prospect with a different potentially bigger deal. You deem that this is a better opportunity for the company, but only have time to work one of these deals while I’m gone. You have no way of reaching me. Which one do you do – the one that I asked for or the one that you feel strongly would be better for the business.

    Obviously we’re looking for a person who is an advisor – a person who makes decisive moves in the best interest of the organization over one person and who is willing to defend that move. People who answer, “I’d do what you ask” are better suited for other types of roles that require strict adherence to processes and procedures like customer service and finance. This is also the reason that many of the world’s top sales reps aren’t good about updating the CRM system until that update gets them paid.

  2. This is great stuff, Chad! I also enjoyed Kevin’s presentation, in particular asking about a time they were competitive. It’s fun to hear the examples people come up with! I also think it’s important to understand what motivates the person and if the way they like to be managed matches the way you like to lead.

  3. Chad, these are excellent questions – for inside or outside sales. Inside sales is one of the toughest sales positions to fill for the long-term. It requires the full swath of successful sales skills & traits, plus an even greater discipline for staying at the desk & forgoing the “freedom” of movement that outside sales people typically relish.

    I would – gently – question Keven Gaither’s point that people who’ve taken longer to get a degree may not be the sharpest knives. Having earned my degree in 4 years right out of high school at my parents’ expense, I have great admiration for those who do it on their own under more strenuous conditions.

    In my experience as a tech sales recruiter, it’s often circumstances, not brain power, that stretch out degree programs. I’d further define “circumstances” as time & money & opportunity. Those whose degrees come later are usually paying for their own education, working their way through school, & maybe managing a family & 1 or 2 jobs. THAT kind of sales person is definitely motivated, smart enough to do it all, has implemented a serious time management plan, & has chowed down on an overflowing plate of things to do. Hats off to them!

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