Sales hiring is difficult, especially for young companies. Although we do our best to alleviate some of this difficulty for our clients, it can still be a tricky process due to a simple lack of information on both sides. No matter the expectations, in the end both candidate and company are looking out for themselves. Candidates simply don’t know anything, they have no idea if an interview went well or who else a company is interviewing for the same position. What is often overlooked is that as employers, we’re in the dark as well. A candidate could very well have an offer sitting on the table from another company, they could be considering going back to school, they could even have another interview immediately following yours.
This degree of ambiguity is something that we try to take away, but at the end of the day this is someone’s career we are talking about (and more often than not for us, it’s the first big career decision they’ve ever made). We’ve seen this imperfect information hurt both camps, where companies have lost great candidates to other opportunities and candidates have attend multiple weeks of interviews only to be ultimately passed on.
So what’s the solution, you ask? Stop dragging your feet! When you find someone who has the attributes associated with success in sales at your company and your team would be happy working with, make an offer!
- Top talent has options. It’s just like free agency–a candidate that possesses the attributes you believe to be predictive of success in a sales role will likely fit the bill at another company. Everyone is looking for smart young salespeople. I am willing to bet that if a candidate found your job posting, they’ve found others, and can you blame them? The chances of getting a call back are slim, especially for a recent graduate with only a GPA and some extra circulars on his/her resume. If someone fits your hiring criteria, make an offer quickly, before somebody else does.
- Be scientific so that you can be decisive. One of the biggest challenges in hiring is the inescapable fact that we are human and as humans, we are empathetic. If you are hiring with your gut you may get it right a few times, but according to HubSpot CRO Mark Roberge, the trick to scaling a sales team is creating a strategic, repeatable system to hire the same successful salesperson each time. Create a score card for each of your interviewers to evaluate candidates in certain areas. Once you’ve hired a few and you have a gauge on their success, take note of their scorecards. How did your top performers score in their interviews? These metrics will be invaluable to future hiring.
- Organize your interview process to fit into one day. I am 100% in favor of having more than one person interview a candidate, but don’t make them trek in to your office three times. Block off one day to invite in a few candidates in, have them cycle through and interview with you, your boss, their could-be colleagues, whoever, but get it over with in one day. Just as they are trying to make a good first impression, you want them to have positive first experience with your company.
- Make sure it’s a mutual fit. This is especially important with entry level hires, but with anyone, make sure the candidate doesn’t just want any job, make sure they want this job. I was interviewing someone just this week who was qualified, gelled well with the team, answered all of our questions adequately, but I could just sense some misgivings. I asked her a very simple question toward the end of the interview: now that you know more about the role and our company, do you want this job? It turns out she didn’t, which is totally okay. I had narrowed it down to her and another candidate and her upfront honesty allowed us to still hit our hiring goal. It’s business, it’s not personal. As a candidate, if you don’t want the job, respectfully decline. Hiring managers will appreciate your honesty.
- Create start dates close to the date of hire. I hate to see great candidates pass on opportunities at great companies because of an inconvenient start date. I understand that it’s difficult in larger organizations, but try to hold interviews as close as possible to the date you plan on beginning the on-boarding process for new-hires.
Following these tips will hopefully help you retain the good candidates and disqualify the not so good ones with less ambiguity. Great talent is hard to come by, so when you recognize it, have confidence in yourself, your team, and your hiring strategy to bring on the right people.