The Best Sales Hiring Process Of All Time: Step-by-Step Guide & Expert Tips
Most sales teams follow the same sales hiring process — screen resumes quickly, interview candidates without no structure and then make a final selection based solely on human intuition and unconscious bias. The problem with this approach is that it often leads to hiring mistakes, wasted hours interviewing the wrong candidates and less high performers on your team.
After spending years working with 100+ sales teams, we have found that the below sales hiring process produces the most success when hiring sales reps.
Below are the steps, along with our very own expert tips, that you should use within your sales hiring process.
Sales Hiring Process Part I: Preparation
1. Develop Your Ideal Sales Rep Profile
Your ideal sales profile should include everything you would expect out of a high-performing sales rep at your organization, including their experience, skill set, strengths, behavioral traits and company culture fit.
A lot of organizations create their Ideal Sales Profile based on what they think fits their sales role, as opposed to using data to know what performs best. Some data you can leverage to create your Ideal Sales Profile includes behavioral data (this you can get from Gradmor’s Sales Hiring Intelligence solution) and your core competency data.
Sales Hiring Process Part II: Initial Review
2. Review Resumes Without Unconscious Bias
The hardest part of screening resumes during the sales hiring process is avoiding our own unconscious biases based on race, gender, education, or other factors that are not indicators of sales success. When reviewing resumes, your Ideal Sales Rep Profile can help you avoid mistakes when deciding which candidates to interview.
We recommend that you ask 1 or 2 application questions to weed out non-serious candidates during the resume submission process. This can be a question or two about your company culture or about what makes them a great sales rep.
3. Conduct A Video Screen
Within your sales hiring process, you should always have 15 minutes video screen to ensure that the candidate can be a good fit. The purpose of a video screen is twofold — one to make sure that the candidate is worth moving on to the next round and to quickly assess without much interview time investment.
Video screens should consist of 1-2 questions that answer your most critical concerns in these areas — culture fit, team fit, and performance fit. You need to know right away if this person has a chance of becoming a successful hire in each of these critical categories before moving on to the next step.
Sales Hiring Process Part III: Assessments
4. Give A Behavioral Assessment
Behavioral traits are the #1 indicator of sales success, as it gives you insight that goes beyond what you can see when interviewing the candidate. Behavioral assessments should be a 5-10 minute multiple choice questionnaire that helps you understand the sales candidate’s behavioral traits.
Use Gradmor’s Sales Hiring Intelligence which combines behavioral science and machine learning technology so you get the most accurate results. You’ll know their exact sales behaviors and how it matches with other sales reps currently on your team.
5. Performance Fit Assessment
During the sales hiring process, you should test your sales candidates with an assessment of their skills. You need to see their true sales skills in action. Sales candidates are great at selling themselves, but you need to know if they will deliver.
Your sales assessment must emulate the role as much as possible. If the job is cold-calling heavy, it should simulate cold calls. If the sales role is heavily consultative and problem solving, it should test that ability more. If a product demo is critical to success, that should be the assessment.
Sales Hiring Process Part III: Interviews
6. Team Fit Interviews
Once a candidate passes the assessments, it’s time to determine whether the AE is going to fit within your team. This interview should be conducted by the direct report (i.e. Sales Manager), as you should ask questions to assess their fit within your leadership and management style.
Using the insights from your behavioral assessment to craft the best interview questions. Our Sales Hiring Intelligence gives you interview questions based on the sales behavioral profile so you can properly assess strengths and weaknesses related to the role and with your managerial tendencies.
7. Culture Fit Interview
Most sales teams assess for culture fit during the sales hiring process by asking a few random questions during the interview round, but we find it is more successful to dedicate a specific interview to company culture. This allows the interviewer to focus on whether they feel the candidate is a culture fit or not, allowing them to ask many questions to see if they fit into your organization.
We find it is best to let a non-direct report conduct the culture interview, as it will give a different perspective on the candidates to make sure they will fit within your company’s culture.
8. Final Interview
The final interview should be with the ultimate decision maker for the sales hiring process and should be for candidates who you are ready to hire.
You should use the final interview to deal with any outstanding issues that you might want to address. This is critical if you like a candidate, but need to get insight into a specific area.
Sales Hiring Process Part IV: Final Review
9. Check References
It is crucial to check references to ensure that what your candidate is saying matches up with their background, experience and capabilities.
Use your reference call to learn how to manage the person best to maximize their potential. Ask questions about what motivates the new potential hire and their strengths and weaknesses while working with them.
10. Make Hiring Decision
Every team should have a hiring decision committee with one key person that has the final say. It is critical that you get input from the other team members that you used during the process and include all relevant information and data.
To eliminate any unconscious bias that could get in the way of making the right hire, we recommend that you make a concerted effort to make your team members aware of things that can get in the way of making an objective decision.