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When hiring salespeople, make them give you 35 reasons why they want to work for you.

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Before anything can happen in business, someone must make a sale. In this five part series, Alex Pirouz outlines the dos and don’ts of successful selling.

It seems that the process of hiring quality salespeople becomes more expensive every year. Recruitment fees are on the up, while the resources required to train new hires can sometimes amount to thousands of dollars.

At the same time, a bad hire, particularly in sales, can cause dire harm to a growing business.

Firstly, you might only be able to afford one new person at a time. So, you need to factor in the opportunity cost of a bad hire (lost sales, for example). Furthermore, a sales staff member who doesn’t cover his or her cost to the business is only going to send you backwards.

If found that hiring the right person often means hiring the person with the best attitude.

Most people make the mistake of hiring a salesperson for their skill or past experience — I know because I used to be one of them.

Today, I’m going to share with you one recruitment method that’s worked brilliantly for me.

Laying the foundations

Before placing ads or calling potential sales consultants, create a checklist.

I’m always shocked by companies that don’t have a checklist prepared for the types of salespeople they’re looking for. If you don’t know what you want, how will you know when it’s in front of you?

The checklist should focus on attitude rather than skill — unless the role you’re recruiting for requires the salesperson to have set qualifications to comply with industry regulations.

Your checklist should include the top 15 attributes you’re looking for in your sales staff, in order of importance.

Whether you’re interviewing people on the phone, sending them an email, or speaking to them face to face, always have your checklist in front of you so that your communication is specific to your requirements.

Next, create interview questions according to the checklist. Thanks to the background work you’ve already done, by the time you’ve asked interviewees these questions you’ll already know whether you’re hiring the right person.

Making sure the right salesperson wants to be on your team

The problem with good salespeople is they know they have options and are always looking for the next best opportunity. To hire them is one thing, but to get them to stay within your organisation is another. So let’s find out how.

At sometime during the recruitment process, ask the candidate to write down 35 reasons why they want to be a salesperson within your company. Allow up to 15 minutes for this process alone.

I’ve conducted this exercise with hundreds of sales consultants. A common theme is that by the time they reach around the 15th reason they get stuck. Why? Because the first 15 reasons are typically high level and relatively easy to communicate.

By contrast, the final 20 are the core motivators for why the candidate wants this position. Including this exercise in your interview process could produce several results:

1) Non completion: The salesperson fails to come up with the 35 reasons. Any time this happens alarm bells should start ringing. I’ve never hired someone who fails to complete his or her reasons. Simply put: if they can’t find enough reasons for wanting the role, they don’t want it badly enough.

2) Repeats: You’ll also get a lot of people who repeat their answers. They’re simply trying to cheat. And you know what they say: Once a cheater, always a cheater.

3) Wrong Motivation: This occurs in approximately 20% of cases. Some salespeople have the wrong motivation for wanting the job. They say things like: ‘I want the job so I can get out of debt’; ‘So that I can pay the bills’; or ‘So that I can get some experience in the work place’. Stay away from salespeople like this; they tend to crumble under pressure and leave if the going gets tough.

4) Completion: When you get the form back and see that the candidate has completed it while avoiding the above pit falls, you’re onto a winner. Do everything you can to ensure they’re hired and managed properly to stay long term.

This exercise will help you ensure salespeople have the right reasons for committing to the job offer, and will remain grounded in both good and bad times.

Having the right sales staff on your team is critical to the success of any organisation. The recruitment process should never be taken lightly, nor should you leave anything to chance. You must use every angle, strategy and tool available to detect whether or not a salesperson is qualified to join your work place.

Alex Pirouz is the founder of RIDC Advisory Pty Ltd. A Business and Sales Advisory firm partnering with Australia’s largest and fastest growing companies to further increase their revenue. (Visit www.ridc.com.au for more details)

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