Evaluating true sales talent 2021 and beyond

For sales leaders recruiting good sales people has historically been something of a ‘hit-and miss affair’, given competition for top talent and our own often sketchy understanding of “what good looks like”. It is further complicated by the fact that “sales” is a very broad profession which encompasses a whole range of related but very distinctive roles.

To make matters worse, it’s particularly hard to recruit sales people because, by their very nature, they are ‘selling’ to us at every stage of the recruitment process – even a very average salesperson should be able to create an impressive CV and present themselves favourably at an interview.

Of course you can make a ‘judgment call’ about a potential recruit and how they might fit into your organization, based on their CV, references (at best both are only evidence of past performance) and on how well they came across at interview. However you need a more objective measure in order to know how a candidate is likely to perform, for you, once recruited.

The key is to identify the key competencies (skills, knowledge and behaviours) that are either critical or desirable, for a sales person to succeed within your business, with your products / services, in your marketplace.

Then, as a major part of your recruitment process, create specific assessment and evaluation exercises that measure ability in each of those critical areas identified.

Assessment exercises can include structured online interviews, relevant case studies, product (virtual) presentations, in-tray exercises and even tailored role-plays. Good assessment workshops can also evaluate a candidate’s attitude, drive, work ethic and interpersonal skills.

Adding an assessment day to your recruitment process will ensure that your recruitment decisions this year are based much more on judgment than luck…and that could save you a fortune in recruitment, induction and wasted training programmes.

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