“Select for traits, train for skills” – Chris Lytle, The Accidental Sales Manager
Recruiting talent (and building high-performing teams) is the #1 priority for a CEO, CRO or a VP of Sales for any B2B SaaS company. Previously, I wrote about the importance of and how to make your sales recruiting systematic and scientific to scale your sales force effectively.
To do this, you have to create a Recruiting Scorecard with the right hiring criteria and the corresponding interview questions that clearly help you gauge the responses. and allow you to score those. The reason you do that is to make your hiring process “objective” because unfortunately many companies recruit in a highly subjective manner that is prone to all kinds of biases and bad decisions that are unhelpful in finding talent that will drive your revenue growth.
Below is a list of the criteria I have used for years to hire sales talent and an image of the scorecard that I’ve used to hire effectively.
1. Personal Traits & Characteristics
- Drive / Ambition / Desire to Win / Healthy Competitiveness
- Hard Work Ethic
- Conscientious / Dedicated / Gets the Job Done
- Optimism / Grit / Resilience / Thick Skin / Tenacity / Confidence
- Coachable / Flexible / Adaptable and Open to Feedback / Learner Mentality
- Intelligent / Analytical / Reasoning Skills
- Empathetic / EQ / People Skills
- Passion (i.e: career in sales, passion for your company, your industry, etc.)
Questions: There are many unique behavioral questions that apply to each of the categories above to help you diagnose the personal attributes of the candidate.
2. Work Competencies & Capabilities
- Prior Successes
- Time Management
- Conflict Management & Resolution
- Curiosity and Continuous Learning & Improvement
- Resourceful / Problem Solver / Has Critical Thinking Abilities
Questions: Just like Part 1 above, there are many behavioral questions for each of the categories to help you gauge the the candidate’s work competencies and capabilities (these are different from “personal traits / characteristics” in Part 1 and these are more focused on the capabilities).
3. Specific Selling Skills
Note: these are some of the select high-level skills but there are many more sub-skills and related skills under each of the ones below. Also, remember that you really can train a lot of this – Part 1 and 2 are more important because Part 3 can be trained (i.e. “hire for attitude, train for aptitude”).
First, you determine assess this:
- Are they interested in and willing to learn & follow our custom Sales Process (i.e. “Sales Process Fit”)
And then all the key selling skills:
- Account Planning
- Sales Call Planning
- Getting to Authority
- Relationship Building & Management
- Providing Insights to the Prospect
- Creating and Adding Value at Every Interaction
- Mutual and Joint Agreements & Expectation-Setting
- Active Listening (2:1 ratio, patience before replying, verbal affirmations)
- Sales Messaging, UVP & Sales Differentiation Ability
- Initial Discovery & Exploratory Process
- Detailed Qualification / Pain Qualification
- Effective Selling / Selling on Value and Solving Problems
- Creating a Buying Experience for the prospect – BX
- Follow-up skills
- Deal Execution
- Mutual Close Plans
- Selling Against the Competition
- Working with Proposals / RFPs
- Complex Deal Negotiations
- Developing a Compelling Reason to Act
- Sales Self-Management Skills: Pipeline Management Skills / Deal Diagnostics, Forecasting, Metrics
Here are some example questions you would ask for the categories above:
- What are your top questions for your initial discovery/demo sales call?
- How do you qualify your prospects, What techniques and questions do you ask?
- Did you ever find it difficult to qualify a prospect? How did you handle this?
- What do you do when a prospect says “the price is too high”?
- What do you do when a prospect says “I need to think it over”?
- What do you do when a prospect says “We’re happy with our current provider”?
- What are the key things in negotiating?
- What are critical factors to closing deals and how do you begin to close / what do you say?
- Managing your pipeline:
- What are some of the biggest red flags in the sales process that signal that the Opportunity is not probable?
- What is your approach to forecasting accurately?
- What sales metrics do you track for yourself?
Here is the way my Scorecard looks – it is several pages and I hand it out to all the internal stakeholders who will be interviewing sales candidates so that we can all be on the same page and discuss our scoring in an objective manner after the interview rounds: