A Guide To Screening And Interviewing Sales Candidates
Published on February 8th, 2023
A profitable and growing company is the result of strategic screening and hiring decisions. And consequently screening sales candidates is an essential process for any company that is looking to bring on new talent, where he/she will leave no stone unturned to gain huge returns. The right people in the right positions will improve your sales and increase profits. For this reason, a comprehensive candidate screening process to hire sales reps is vitally important to your company’s success, where the suitable candidate will guarantee top-level revenues for your company, and boost productivity.
Sales hiring is a crucial part of every company's growth strategy. Without sales hires, there's no way for your business to grow as you expect it to. And it is the time when your company needs to maximize value for your shareholders and customers by increasing efficiency, successfully introducing new products, and reducing production costs.
Moreover, creating a culture of sales excellence is not simply about hiring suitable people and putting them in place to deliver results. And about 63% of recruiters say talent shortage is their biggest problem as published in the year 2017 Recruiter Sentiment Study MRINetwork. At the end of the day, it's about measuring how your team is performing against set goals, empowering your employees to perform better and smarter, and then engaging them in activities that will surely make them more productive.
But, as you are about to embark on your sales hiring strategy for the coming years, evaluate and examine your company by asking How well do you know your candidates? Do you know the difference between active and passive candidates? And, Have you put into practice the most accurate and efficient hiring sales reps strategies for your company?
Get The Picture Of Hiring Sales Reps
Sales recruitment is a complex program that exposes your company to the risk of hiring unskilled people. The slightest error in the process of hiring sales reps can bring about disastrous consequences for your business. Knowing the fact that screening and interviewing candidates is an important step in the hiring process, there are lots of other details like the candidate’s background and their experience with the specific role or job area, to consider before the recruitment. About 41% of companies say entry-level positions are the hardest to fill, says a report published in Hireology, 2018.
The screening of the candidates, to hire sales reps can go a long way towards ensuring your company gets the best possible talent. For clear perception, there are a few core elements that can help you make sure you are hiring good salespeople.
1. Design the right interview process
Hiring sales reps is an essential process for your company when you want to achieve your sales goals. To build the right interview process to hire sales reps, your company should consider the following steps:
Define the job requirements: Before starting the interview process, you need to define the job requirements for the sales representative role. This includes identifying the necessary skills, experience, and qualifications required for the job.
Develop a screening process: By reviewing the resumes and cover letters, as well as pre-screening interviews, you can filter out candidates who do not meet the minimum requirements for the role.
Prepare a structured interview: A structured interview is a standardized approach to asking questions during the interview process. Create a mix of open-ended and behavioral-based questions to uncover the candidate's experience, skills, and fit with your company culture.
Determine the required skills and experience: Start by outlining the key skills and experience required for the role. Consider the type of sales reps you need for your business and the specific market you are targeting. This will help you create a job description and determine the qualifications you are looking for in candidates.
2. Create a job listing that eliminates bias
Creating a job listing that eliminates bias when hiring sales reps can help ensure that you attract a diverse pool of qualified candidates. When hiring sales reps, avoid incorporating unnecessary requirements in job listings that may restrict certain groups of candidates from applying. Next, you can consider using a blind application process to hire sales reps, where the candidate's name, gender, and other identifying information are removed from their application to eliminate unconscious bias during the recruitment.
Moreover, before creating a job listing, paying attention to the usage of language that is inclusive of all candidates can create a welcoming environment for all the candidates. Make use of phrases like "we welcome candidates from all backgrounds" or "we value diversity in our workplace."
Another crucial step to attracting a more diverse group of candidates for the job role is to incorporate words like "they" instead of "he" or "she" and avoid using gender-specific job titles like "salesman" or "saleswoman." in your job listing. Consider using a blind application process to hire sales reps, where the candidate's name, gender, and other identifying information are removed from their application to eliminate unconscious bias during the recruitment.
3. Invest time in reviewing resumes
Before reviewing resumes, it's essential to define the criteria that you're looking for in candidates to hire sales reps. Setting specific criteria that include in-particular skills, experience, and education requirements that are necessary for the role aids to streamline the review process and makes it easier to identify top candidates. Further, you can start by scanning for key information such as relevant experience, education, and skills and also, look for the information that aligns with the specific criteria you have set for the role. For sales representatives, experience in sales or a related field is critical, as are strong communication and negotiation skills.
Look for achievements, sales quotas they've achieved, awards they've received, or other relevant accomplishments that candidates have listed which thereby help indicate their ability to perform in a sales role. Another factor that can smoothen the process of hiring sales reps is by assessing the writing skills of the candidates, where you can look for resumes that are well-written, organized, and easy to read. Candidates who can effectively communicate their experience and qualifications on paper may be better equipped to communicate effectively with clients
4. View the candidates in the screening process
The screening process when hiring sales reps allows you to narrow down the pool of candidates to those who meet the basic qualifications and requirements for the role. There are some of the most common screening processes that your company can use while hiring sales reps.
- Application Screening: Assessing the work experience, education, and other qualifications of the candidates by the means of automated applicant tracking systems (ATS) promotes filtering the applicants based on specific keywords and qualifications.
- Phone Screening: Once the application screening is complete, you can conduct a phone screening to further evaluate the candidate's qualifications and assess their communication skills.
- Video Interview: This can be a more efficient way to assess a candidate's qualifications and personality while reducing the need for in-person interviews. Video interviews can be conducted through a variety of platforms such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet.
- Behavioral Assessment: Companies may use behavioral assessments to evaluate a candidate's personality, work style, and communication skills. These assessments can help identify candidates who are a good fit for the sales role and have the traits needed to succeed in the job.
5. Create a list of not just relevant but also the ‘right’ questions
When screening and interviewing candidates for a sales representative role, it's important to ask relevant questions that can help assess their qualifications, skills, and fit for the role. Asking questions relevant to the company's industry, culture, and values ensure the right hiring of sales reps. Here are a few screening questions;
- Describe the reason to pursue a career in sales.
- What sales experience do you have, and how have you excelled in your previous sales roles?
- Can you walk us through a sales deal you closed and how you accomplished it?
- How do you prepare for sales presentations, and what techniques do you use to close deals?
- Describe a time when you faced a challenging client or sale. How did you handle the situation?
- Can you tell me about a time when you exceeded your sales targets or quotas?
- How do you stay upgraded with changes in the market and industry trends?
- What techniques do you use to build and maintain relationships with clients?
- How do you prioritize your sales activities and manage your time effectively?
- Can you provide an example of a successful team selling experience, and how you worked with other team members to close the deal?
- How do you handle rejection and maintain a positive attitude when faced with obstacles in the sales process?
- What do you believe sets you apart from other candidates and makes you the best fit for this sales representative role?
6. Swing into action for the final decision
When hiring sales reps, the final decision to select or reject an applicant can be challenging. Ultimately, the decision to hire sales reps should be based on a thorough and objective assessment of the candidate's qualifications, skills, fit with the company, and potential for success in the role.
Review the candidate's qualifications via their resume, application, and interview responses to determine if they have the necessary qualifications and experience for the role. Look for any red flags or inconsistencies in their application materials.
Evaluate the candidate's sales skills such as their ability to communicate effectively, build relationships with clients, and close deals. This can be done through their responses during the interview process and any relevant work experience or references.
Consider the candidate's fit with the company culture values, and work environment by assessing their work style, preferences, and goals, as well as discussing the company culture and expectations.
Review feedback from team members or stakeholders involved in the hiring process which can provide additional insights into the candidate's fit with the team and the company as a whole.
Make a decision based on the overall assessment based on the above factors, and make a decision to either select or reject the candidate. Consider any potential risks or challenges associated with hiring sales reps, and weigh them against their qualifications and potential contributions to the team.
Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down- Communicate the result to the candidate
Your company needs to communicate the final decision, either acceptance or rejection to the applicant professionally and respectfully. By communicating the feedback in a prompt, sensible, and proficient manner, your organization can ensure a positive candidate experience and maintain a positive reputation in the job market.
Communicate the decision to the candidate as soon as possible after the hiring process is complete. This can help avoid any unnecessary anxiety or uncertainty on the part of the candidate. Moreover, according to the State of the American Workplace Report Gallup 2017, only 12% of employees agree that their company does a good job of onboarding new employees.
If the candidate is rejected, consider providing feedback on why they were not selected for the role which can enable the candidate to improve their skills and qualifications for future job opportunities. Also, consider offering to stay in touch with them for future job opportunities or for networking purposes. On the contrary, if the candidate is accepted for the role, communicate the next steps in the hiring process, such as a start date, onboarding process, or any relevant paperwork or documentation needed.
There is no one-size procedure that results in an effective screening process of a sales candidate that is essential to your company’s success. So, we at HireQuotient are here to work to root and branch for your company to develop and improve your sales hiring process to enable you to convert the highest number of candidates into proven sales staff.
Thomas M. A.
A literature-lover by design and qualification, Thomas loves exploring different aspects of software and writing about the same.
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