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Friday, 13 August 2010

Recruiting B2B Salespeople

climbing the ladder


For the last 20 years, I have been Recruiting, Selecting and On-boarding B2B Sales people, working with about 20 different Client Companies.
I DON'T have a 'List of Questions', per se.
I DO have a Job Specification (Description) and a People Specification for the role.

Each CV or Resume is carefully read and cover letters 'ignored' (they are salespeople!)
CV's that do not have 'essential' factors: location, qualification, experience, etc. are quickly disposed of. A few 'interesting' ones, usually special skills Languages, unusual talents or living in improbable locations are kept on file for other jobs.



Telephone interviews for the remainder are arranged;
20-40 minutes to review the CV/Resume for accuracy and relevance to role.

phone%20callThis is an inclusive process, not elimination.
About 50% leave at this stage due to exaggeration or falsehood.
I always thank them for their application,
but advise them to change their CV/Resume.

We start with a “soft introduction” about the company and position,
and then I ask if they have any questions for me!
If they do NOT have any questions then it is minus 5 points.
A Salesperson with no questions is unlikely.
With their questions 'handled' then, I begin.


FIVE areas on their CV/Resume interest me, for B2B Sales.

  1. Knowledge of their current Product/Market, their Sales Channel and Sales Process.

  2. Skills: Selling Skills, People Skills, and Negotiation Skills.
    Do they know what they are, can they use them and do they use them.

  3. Activity: Revenue Generating Activity (RGA) versus Non-Revenue Generating Activity (NRGA),
    here I do have a list, not of questions, but a proprietary check list of areas sales people spend time on.
    I do a ratio RGA/NRGA if better than 50% plus 5 Points.

  4. Attitude: why have they left jobs, what attracted them to new jobs, why are they thinking about this job.
    How do they feel about Clients, Products, Markets, Sales Managers, and greatest success, biggest failure?
    What would be their Ideal job?  (If its NOT Sales, then why are they looking at us?)

  5. Strategy: For B2B selling, I examine their use of SFA and CRM, Pipeline Management, Prospecting and Territory Coverage. Preferred style Farmer or Hunter? (I also use two propriety categories 'Skinner' and 'Poacher').  You may want to read my Blog on Hunters and Farmers to see a twist!


The Interview Telephone call is recorded; I do a Behaviour Analysis on ME on 1 call in 5. I check for my total talk time less than 30%, and my Question types: Open/Closed, Leading, Rhetorical, Multiple and a special category Nonsensical! These audio audits keep me honest, avoid prejudice, and maintain a level playing field. I notice repetition and occasionally I do like a question that I ask. The process is about 10% preparation and 90% improvisation as each candidate is different.   Both you and they have to respond and interact with one another. Borderline Cases will also be audio reviewed, and best and worst may be reviewed with the Client.

Scoring for each of the five categories as Red, Amber or Green. A single Red eliminates the candidate. There is an overall Score of 1-10, 7+ are called to Face to Face interview and assessment. Candidates are told to bring their ‘Diaries’ for an Activity audit, their stock presentation for current Product/Market and to be available for up to 4 hours.

How successful is this?
Just over 70% of selected candidates succeed in their first 12 months.

The others leave of their own accord 15% and are fired 15%.

This compares to 'Industry' figures of
about 30% success rate in first 12 months.

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