An America’s Cup team is highly selective about which sailors are allowed to crew the ship. A company should be equally selective about who sells its products or services. Once your smooth selling crew is aboard, then you need to do everything you can to enable them to sell.

Hiring is too important to leave to a seat-of-the-pants approach. A hiring process should employ a series of time-tested steps. A person within the organization should be assigned responsibility for each step and a timeframe followed. Here is a seventeen-step recommendation:

  1. Complete a job role worksheet
  2. Develop position description
  3. Develop recruitment ad
  4. Develop candidate-screening questionnaire
  5. Develop on-boarding plan
  6. Place recruitment ad
  7. Screen resumes received
  8. Screen resume qualified candidates using candidate-screening questionnaire
  9. Select top candidates using their resume, answers to the candidate-screening questionnaire and available social media information
  10. Conduct telephone interviews with all qualified candidates
  11. Conduct initial face-to-face interviews with all qualified candidates
  12. Conduct reference checks on candidates moving to next round interviews
  13. Complete a psychometric sales assessment on candidates moving to next round interviews
  14. Conduct team member interviews with all qualified candidates
  15. Conduct final interview top two candidates
  16. Extend job offer in writing
  17. Conduct background check

During the process the hiring company needs to determine its expectations for success for the sales person. These are important to communicate and should guide the sales-candidate filtering process. Some questions to ask include:

  • Describe your experience selling (insert the products or services that the company sells).
  • What types of organizations have you been selling to over the past three years?
  • By role, who was involved in the buying decision and who was the primary decision maker?
  • What was your average deal size in each of the past three years?
  • What was the monthly dollar value of your average sales pipeline and how many prospects were included in it in each of the past three years?
  • How long was your average sales cycle and how many face-to-face sales calls were typically required to close a sale in each of the past three years?
  • What level of quota attainment did you achieve and what was your performance rank versus your peers in each of the past three years?
  • Over the course of your sales career what formal sales training have you received and when?
  • What has been your earning history, breaking apart salary from incentive compensation, over the past three years?

After an interview, each candidate should be evaluated based on a predetermined set of success characteristics. Every company is different so weight should be given to each characteristic (is it critical, a plus, or a basic need?). My suggestion is simple scoring on a 0 to 3 scale (3 = exceeds expectations, 2 = meets expectations, 1 = short of expectations, and 0 = lacks the characteristic).

Here are some characteristics to examine:

  • Industry sales experience
  • Understanding of the sales environment
  • Sales track record
  • Sales cycle fit
  • Sales transaction size fit
  • Formal sales training
  • Income fit
  • Personality/cultural fit

If your company plans to use an outside recruiter the steps will remain virtually the same, however in addition to finding qualified candidates, your recruiter should also be held accountable for prescreening candidates and presenting only candidates that meet your selection criteria.

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