The One Thing You Cannot Skip When Hiring an ‘A’ Player


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It’s that time of the year. Planning for 2014 is in full swing. You just got off the weekly call with the Sales Leadership team. Your boss, the SVP of Sales, has some ‘great’ news. “We got budget approval to add new sales heads. Start recruiting now so we can start of 2014 with a full team.” Thoughts race through your mind because the last few hires have not worked out:

  • How do I hire the best reps?
  • Where am I going to find good people fast?
  • How can be assured I hire the best?
  • What can I do to increase my odds I can pick the best candidate?
  • What can I do to forecast they will be successful?

Hiring ‘A’ players is difficult. But the reward is worth the pain. We estimate the cost of mis-hire range from $150,000 to $750,000. Using a defined method for hiring reduces this pain to hire. And don’t reinvent the wheel. Use a proven method for your hiring process.

SBI has been helping companies hire and develop ‘A’ players ever since our CEO co-authored a book in 2008. During that time, we have insisted on the ‘Topgrading for Sales’ method of hiring.

  • What is Topgrading for Sales?
  • It is the sourcing, hiring and onboarding of “A” players. It is in a consistent and integrated manner.
  • What does Topgrading for Sales do?
    • It boosts the quality of new hires and avoids costly mis-hires. It creates a robust manner to evaluate and develop your current team.
  • What does it mean to use Topgrading for Sales?
    • It means selecting the right talent and establishing new-hire expectations. This gets your new reps to goal more quickly

    This method has several critical steps to increase hiring success. But the most common step not taken that provides the best indicator of success? It is the Job Tryout.

    topgrading sales talent management

    The Job Tryout:

    This is the most important indicator of future success during the interviewing process. It simulates a live scenario the candidate will face during their actual job performance. But most wonder how they are going to ‘simulate’ a live sales call. Your Sales Managers can’t understand how you can really test the candidate. And they especially can’t in a made-up situation.

    Get a copy of the Job Tryout Guide here. It will enable you to construct and use a scenario in your interviewing process. And by registering for our Annual Research Tour, you will get many other tools. They will help increase effectiveness with your sales teams.

    Job Tryout Guide

    There are three steps to getting the Job Tryout right and making it work:

    1. Nail the Scenario: The live simulation the candidate is tested on needs to be real. This is typically a document the candidate completes. They then present it and role play it live. It must contain a minimum of 5 sections:
      1. Background of a typical prospect or company your organization calls on regularly. (Your Ideal Customer Profile)
      2. Prospect/Customer Facts. This is information you would obtain during the lead qualification or discovery call process. You must include who they currently know at the prospect/customer. Include titles and responsibilities but not information about their decision making ability. Leave that for the candidate to figure out.
      3. Metrics needed to enable a fair assessment of their current state. These analytics are critical so the candidate can be prepared to discuss the situation.
      4. Situation Assessment section the candidate completes on their own before the ‘live’ scenario.
      5. Recommendations/Next Steps the candidate completes in writing but discusses during the presentation. It is a very critical part of the scenario. This is where most sales ‘die.’
    2. Don’t adapt to the candidate. The scenario shouldn’t be changed to accommodate the candidate. If you do it always F2F, no changes. The scenario doesn’t fit the role? Create a new one that does. The consistency in the job tryout situation allows proper comparison between candidates.
    3. Score the results. Develop a way to measure the results how the candidate performed. Break the scorecard into two sections. One for the quality of the presentation. The other for the execution of the presentation and role play. Choose these scoring criteria wisely. Have everyone in the room (or on the phone) grade the candidate separately. You can aggregate the scores later. Below is a sample of a Job Tryout Scorecard:

    sales job tryout scorecard

    Conducting a Job Tryout isn’t easy. It takes time, preparation and energy from both parties. But the results from using one are hard to argue. Even reducing the expense of a mis-hire is well worth the effort. Hiring ‘A’ players is going to be critical to your success in 2014.

    Call to Action:

    • Create a job tryout scenario for your main sales position. The Job Tryout tool will help get you started.
    • Invite HR to participate. Since they own most hiring in organizations, run a pilot with your team. If they question you, give them the Topgrading for Sales book. It clearly helps you get them bought in.
    • Schedule your first one with a candidate you have in the process now. Invite your boss, a peer and two sales managers. Not only get feedback on your candidate but on the tryout itself.

    Most organizations fail to put their candidates through a job tryout. This is because of lack of time, energy or politics. Most sales people fail due to execution. This is the failed execution of the sales process, CRM or time management. The Job Tryout will test your candidate for those important variables. The cost of mis-hire can be staggering. Stack odds with you by insisting a Job Tryout is in your hiring process.

    Republished with author's permission from original post.

    Dan Perry
    Dan is an industry thought leader with more than 25 years of experience in b-to-b field sales, sales management, and sales operations. Dan has delivered domestic and international results for companies such as Hewlett Packard, Terremark Worldwide, Dow Jones, Activant Solutions, Kronos, CDS Global, Microsemi.


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