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Small Compass Sound Sales: Evaluating and Interviewing Sales Candidates

By Mark McGlinchey - Written by Compass Group Solutions Founder Mark McGlinchey, this article first appeared in the Indianapolis Business Journal

Sales Management Tip

There are over 25,000,000 selling professionals in the United States. Almost 40% of them change jobs on an annual basis. That’s right! Data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics indicates that a typical business will turnover almost 40% of their sales force annually. I could list many reasons as to why the turnover rate is so high, and some of the many reasons have validity. However, in my opinion, the biggest factor in sales force turnover is one reason… most salespeople are not very good. Thus, they’re chased out the door, or get out the door before the guillotine falls on them.

Testing and Evaluating

If you are in sales management, or if you have anything to do with the evaluation and selection process of your sales force, you need to be using a reliable test or evaluation. The evaluation you use for your sales force is completely separate from any general evaluations administered by your company in hiring for other positions.

If you search the Internet, you will probably find over a hundred sources that advertise themselves as a proper evaluation tool for sales candidates. In reality, there are only about three evaluation tools that can accurately indicate or determine if a particular sales candidate will be successful. One of those three quality sales evaluation tools is ours — McGlinchey Method Sales Evaluations. I know I may be a little biased. Simply put, it’s the best evaluation tool in the marketplace.

I only put stock in a handful of sales evaluations because the vast majority of tests and evaluations are designed to determine factors that really have little to do with a successful salesperson’s makeup. The wrong evaluations are usually based on personality, or psychological or sociological factors. The right evaluations, again there are only a few, will determine a sales candidate’s strategy, tactics and skills – along with, sales weaknesses and baggage. The right evaluations will help you determine if a candidate not only knows how to sell but if they will actually go out and do it.

Benefits of Evaluations

  1. Help the sales management team hire sales candidates who are more likely to succeed.

  2. Determine the ongoing training needs and the areas that which require the most work for each salesperson.

  3. Determine each salesperson’s growth potential. Thus, helping management spend their time, money and energy in the right places.

  4. Drastically reduce sales force turnover through hiring the correct people. When you hire the wrong salesperson, depending on your industry, you have just made a $ 150,000 to a $ 1 million mistake.

Calculate it yourself – the tangible and intangible dollars, revenue that didn’t happen that should have happened, opportunities lost forever and time.

The Right Interview

Particularly in the first interview, your strategy should be to make the candidate uncomfortable. You need to pretend that you are the hardest prospect they have ever made a sales call on. If they can’t handle themselves under fire in this situation, doesn’t it make sense that they won’t be able to handle themselves under fire in front of a prospect?

Your general demeanor should be short, curt and somewhat unfriendly. What you are trying to learn from them is: do they become emotionally involved too quickly on a sales call, and can they fight through a tough situation.

Ask the candidate numerous questions about prospecting. How do they prospect? How much time per day do they spend prospecting? What methods do they use to prospect? If they seemed at all stumped, they probably do not prospect. If they tell you they spend more than three hours a day prospecting, most likely they are lying and they probably rarely prospect. Otherwise, they would realize that spending three hours a day prospecting is almost impossible and is hard to achieve in most industries. If they use words like networking and marketing, or tell you they like to send out letters or use e-mail, they are certainly not hunters. Great hunters and prospectors consider the telephone the only realistic method of prospecting. If they’re scared of the phone, don’t hire them.

If your demeanor is tough and your questions are probing, you’re going to know after one interview if you have a candidate who not only can sell but will sell. I believe only 20% of salespeople are worth hiring. Therefore, four out of five salespeople should be flunking this type of an interview and it should be obvious which ones fail.


Keywords: Sales Management, Sales Evaluation and Hiring, Sales Candidate Interviews, Sales Management Tips, Sound Sales, Sales Consulting, Compass Group Solutions, Mark McGlinchey

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