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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

How to Find the Perfect Fit When Hiring a Salesperson

Finding the right fitEvery Birthday, every Christmas, every “gift giving occasion” we go through the same thing with our six year old. The conversation goes something like this:

Me: Patrick, what would you like for your birthday?

Patrick: A puppy.

Me: What else would you like?

Patrick: A dog.

Me: Anything else?

Patrick: A deadly cobra snake.

Eventually Patrick, who may someday have a successful career in sales, wore me down and I agreed to a puppy.

My next problem became “So how do I find the perfect puppy for us?”  

To answer this question I decided to call upon the same techniques I apply when coaching sales managers on how to find the right salesperson – it comes down to selecting the right fit. 

Selecting the perfect puppy is much like hiring a salesperson – you have to start with what is innate, you have to focus on Talent first.

It is all about SELECTION.

What is the big difference between recruiting a seller and selecting a seller? Recruitment goes on 53 weeks a year, selection starts when there is an opening. Every time you make a hire, the challenge is different, and every time you have to go through the steps.

  1. Job Analysis and spec sheet – My first step was to define what I am looking for – EXACTLY.  In our case, we needed a non-shedding, hypoallergenic, house dog, that will weigh less than 20 pounds full grown.  Pretty tall order for sure, but absolutely specific. When you have an opening on your sales team, the first step is to define the talents you are looking for to fill that position. What are you looking for – EXACTLY?  Which talents are required versus which are desired? The more specific, the better! I knew my deal breakers starting the search. Those characteristics were required. I also wanted a good tempered, adorable female dog – those were my desired traits. 
  2. Screen – When you know what you are looking for, it is much easier to hone in and find it. You can cast your net out far and wide and easily filter out anyone not meeting your core requirements.  I screened through a lot of different breeds and did my research.  I knew exactly what I was looking for so it was very easy to cast out those who were obviously not the right fit. Large dogs? Out. High shedding? Out. The screening process is essential in helping you sift through a lot of candidates and easily determine those who are not going to be the right fit before you invest your precious time focusing on those that have the potential to be “the one.”
  3. Select – After I defined what I was looking for and screened out the breeds that clearly wouldn’t be right for our family, it was time to make a selection. During this stage I “checked references” (by asking and talking to people who owned the breeds I was interested in).  I looked closer at my “desired traits” and got super picky.  I went to meet the puppy in her early stages to see how she would react to me and listened to my “gut instinct.” Gut instincts are absolutely important, but only after you have narrowed in on what you are really looking for. If had gone to meet puppies of high shedding breeds that would grow up to be very large, I’m sure I would have loved some of them as well! That is what we call “glare.”  After all of this, I made my final decision on a sweet little apricot Cavapoo we named Bella.

Consider using these steps the next time you are selecting a salesperson. Spec, Screen, Select. Hiring decisions can be the most critical decisions a company makes and it vital to your leadership development. It's essential to start with talent. Before adding training and tactics, starting with talent is the best path to reduce turnover, increase revenue, and retain long-term customers.

The effort and research in finding the perfect dog was confirmed by our son's happiness and we are proud to welcome our new puppy and I am pleased to say she is “fitting right in.” I am, however, seriously concerned that next birthday I will need to pony up and search for a deadly cobra snake.

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