Here’s How to Develop a Winning Sales Recruiting & Selection Process

Published on Sep 17, 2020

As many as 80% of salespeople fail to hit the mark, and 55% of them should actually be doing something else, according to the National Association of Sales Professionals. These numbers illustrate just how difficult it is to succeed in sales and shows that the CEOs and sales leaders responsible for hiring reps have their work cut out for them. 

But in this post, we’ll outline a definitive strategy you can use to develop a winning sales recruiting and selection process to ensure you only hire the best of the best. Let’s jump right in.  

First, Identify the Most Important Areas That Influence Success

Each company is different. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach is seldom effective. Instead, you need to start your sales recruiting campaign by pinpointing which specific areas most influence success in your business. 

In their eBook Best Practice to Recruiting the Hardest Role in the Company, SG Partners says “Best Practice Sales Team Selection process commences with a clear understanding of the criteria for success in your market. You need to identify the candidate’s experience in the 20 most important areas that will influence success.”

They then go on to list some examples of factors like:

  • Markets where your company operates
  • Your customer base
  • Competitors
  • Sales cycle
  • Method of compensation 

Screen Candidates Objectively with a Sales Assessment

Before you look at a single resume or begin interviewing, you’ll want to use a candidate sales assessment to get an objective snapshot of selling skills to determine which candidates have what it takes to thrive. 

“This unique screening process was developed exclusively to identify those salespeople that WILL be successful in specific sales environments,” explains SG Partners. “It separates out those candidates that may look like salespeople and sound like salespeople but simply won’t sell.”

There are many different tools out there, but the main one we suggest using is the sales assessment from Objective Management Group (OMG). It’s based on a massive amount of data, including over 2 million salespeople from more than 30,000 companies across 200 industries. 

And its predictive validity rate is unparalleled, with 92% of suggested candidates reaching the top half of the salesforce. This will analyze 21 sales core competencies like the will to sell, motivation, coachability, and so on to filter through your list of candidates and narrow it down to the most elite. 

Phone Screen Shortlisted Candidates

Now it’s time for the actual interviewing process to begin. For the first round, you’ll want to phone screen the candidates who successfully completed the sales assessment, possess the right skills you are looking for and match your unique selling environment. 

This should be brief at around 15 to 30 minutes and is simply meant to see how well they engage with you, as this will be a great indicator of how well they’ll engage with leads if hired. 

You’ll want to create a basic script for your phone screening to ensure all candidates get the same questions and have the same opportunities. SG Partners recommends intentionally putting candidates under pressure to see how they respond to gauge their overall effectiveness. And you’ll also want to use quantitative scoring to rate a candidate’s response to each question (e.g. a 1 to 5 rating). 

For a full rundown on how to effectively use phone screening, check out this previous post we wrote. 

Conduct Short Interviews with Top Candidates

Once you’ve narrowed down your candidate pool even more, it’s time for a round of more detailed but still relatively short interviews of around 35 minutes. Ideally, this will be done face-to-face, but given the current climate post-COVID, doing it over video conferencing software like Zoom should be sufficient, specifically if they will be selling virtually. 

“The candidate is screened on issues or concerns with their work history or suitability based on their resume and also issues that were identified through the [sales assessment],” says SG Partners. “This interview is again designed to measure the ability of the candidate to respond to challenging objections while seeking to gain control of the interview process.”

The exact questions you ask can run the gamut, but Meg Prater of HubSpot highlights 10 sales interview questions that should help get the ball rolling. You can also download our interview questionnaire for a more detailed list of behavioral style interview questions. 

Perform In-Depth Interviews on Your Top 2-3 Candidates

At this point, you should have narrowed it down to your top two or three candidates who all show great promise. You’ll then want to have highly in-depth interviews with these candidates and really dive in deep to figure out what they truly bring to the table. 

“This interview is a very extensive process that requires the candidate to take you through a structured overview of their work and experience following a clear chronological order,” writes SG Partners. “This process can take up to two hours and is designed to separate truth from fiction in relation to the past history of the candidates.”

And don’t forget about reference checking. 

Given the amount of preparation that in-depth interviews like this take, it’s crucial that you perform plenty of planning and preparation in advance. 

Hold a Final Interview for the Candidate You Want

The last step in the sales team selection process is to have a final interview, which is where you go over the formalities and get everything squared away. Here are some specific things that SG Partners suggests covering. 

From there, it’s just a matter of making an offer.

Rinse and Repeat

Rockstar salespeople don’t grow on trees. And we’ve seen time and time again that haphazard hiring practices and selecting candidates based on “a hunch” lead to unfavorable outcomes. 

While nothing is 100% foolproof, following SG Partners’ sales team selection process can promise with near certainty that you’ll find the right salespeople that fit in perfectly with your company culture. 

Once you have the formula, rinse and repeat. 

For more on how to level up your recruiting, download Best Practice to Recruiting the Hardest Role in the Company

And to learn about which mistakes to avoid, read The Top 5 Reasons You Are Failing at Recruiting Consistently Great Sales Teams

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