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A common business principle is the 80/20 rule: that 80 percent of sales are made by the top 20 percent of your salespeople. Although sales talent can be hard to find, it will pay off significantly for your bottom line. Don’t let top talent slip through your fingers – follow these steps when hiring your next salesperson.

Define Your Needs

There are a variety of skills relating to sales. To hire the salesperson who will best fit your needs, narrow down the precise sales skills that are most applicable for your sales model. Examples of different sales skills include prospecting, relationship, customer relationship management (CRM)/technology, communication, or handling rejection. For instance, if your sales rely on single purchases, prospective skills or handling rejection may be higher priority needs for candidates than relationship building.

Focus on Past Performance

Just because a candidate can make convincing promises during the interview doesn’t mean that they will live up to them. Base your interview questions around past performance, and request specific instances of sales results. Since the best predictor of future performance is often past performance, this strategy will prevent you getting dazzled by the pitches of slick candidates and inadvertently being biased against the ones with more accomplishments but less flash.

Assess Personal Motivators

The most effective form of motivation for success comes from within; therefore, your best salespeople are likely the ones who are self-motivated because they personally get something out of it when they go above and beyond. Look for candidates who demonstrate pleasure in their work ethic, accomplishing goals as a team, and overall passion, over the ones who seem more externally motivated (such as through bonuses).

Evaluate Their Skills

Gain a slight preview of the future by putting candidates’ sales skills to the test in some form during the interview. For instance, you could describe a common sales scenario and ask how they would approach it or even roleplay and have them sell to you as if you were a customer. While the performances may not be at their best due to nerves, you’ll still get an idea of their strengths.

Look for Trainability

There comes a point when impressive sales skills and an excellent track record can become a hindrance regarding candidates if they are “stuck in their ways” and not receptive to new processes. Equally (or arguably more) important than sales performance is their ability to be coached. A candidate with less sales experience but who is eager to learn your company’s methods and best practices may work out better than a candidate who is experienced and skilled but unreceptive to feedback.

Sales employees are among the most valuable and influential to company performance. Ethan Allen Workforce Solutions provides expert service for employers in the Hudson Valley area and their staffing needs. Learn more about the services we offer and contact us today to learn more about how Ethan Allen could be an asset in achieving your business goals.