Evaluating Your Sales Candidates
You should have a good idea of the experience and skill level of your job candidates after reviewing the hundreds of resumes you've most likely accumulated. At this stage, you should be asking:
- Have they been in front of people selling before?
- Are they right out of school, or do they have a few years of experience to draw on?
- Do you have a strong enough training program to allow you to hire recent grads with no experience?
- Do they have what it takes to actually perform the technical functions of the job? -- In other words, do they have computer skills?
There are a lot of things to think about. With selling, experience isn't always the most important thing to look at, especially if you have existing sales reps who can assist in the training and mentoring of new recruits.
In order to be good sales representatives, your recruits have to have good research skills to find out about their prospects and know and understand their needs, their business, their business structures, etc. These skills can be taught, but experience in digging up the necessary information is helpful. These days, that experience includes Internet research skills, as well as good old-fashioned research techniques -- asking co-workers, making phone calls, and using business reference books at the library.
They also need to be good communicators. The majority of what a sales rep does involves communication -- both written and verbal.
Whether it is explaining the specifications of your product or service or communicating how your prospect will benefit from the product or service, much rides on how this is articulated and negotiated. Pay close attention during the interview process to how your candidates articulate their qualities and "sell" themselves to you.
What level of computer skills do they need? If you're planning on using any type of contact management software (see How Sales Techniques Work), then they have to be familiar with the basics of word processing, spreadsheets, and maybe the fundamentals of relational databases. You should also look for knowledge of presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint. Many clients expect high-level presentations from sales representatives, so your reps have to be comfortable using the technology, and in some cases designing their own presentations.