The best predictor
of future sales behavior is current sales behavior. This guerrilla approach
to screening sales applicants gives you an opportunity to observe their
sales skills before putting them in front of a prospect. By seeing how
well they sell themselves to you, you can predict how effective they
will be with remarkable accuracy.
Set Up Voice
Arrange with the phone company to set up a dedicated number that
rings into a DDE (direct-dial extension) equipped with voice mail.
Run your classified
ad outlining the basic qualifications for the job, but do not mention
the name of the company. You do not want people dropping in or mailing
you their resumes. Include the language, "to schedule an interview call
The outbound recording
on the voice mail says, "Due to the overwhelming response to our ad,
we have had to automate our screening process. At the tone please leave
the following information: your name, your daytime and evening phone
numbers, a brief summary of your qualifications, and why you think you
would be a good candidate for this job. If your background meets our
requirements, you will be contacted for an interview." (BEEEEP).
Listen to the recorded
messages. First listen to the voice. Is it warm? Friendly? Intelligent?
Is this the voice of someone who you would feel comfortable representing
your firm? If so, save the message; if not, delete.
Did They Follow
Once you have narrowed the field, listen to the messages a second
time. How well they followed the directions they were given in the outbound
voice mail will be an accurate predictor of how well they will follow
your directions in the future. Did they state their name clearly? Did
they spell it if the spelling would be in doubt. Did they then give
you their contact phone numbers next, and volunteer a best time to call?
Did they summarize their skills and experience (benefits) or just read
their resume (features)? Most important, did they close with some sort
of call to action; are they "asking for the order."
If they pass this
litmus test, phone them, and conduct your first interview by phone,
opening with the question, "tell me about yourself." Confirm that they
have the requisite experience by asking questions along the lines of,
"Tell me about a situation where you . . ." (dealt with some particular
challenge or situation they are likely to encounter in your employ.)
Watch for them to try to take control of the interview (any good salesperson
will) and start asking you questions.
Ask for a Resume
By now you should be able to make a decision. Is this someone you think
you would like to hire? If so, they must pass one more test. Ask them,
"could you FAX me a copy of your resume? Yes, right now." You will get
one of two answers: either they will stall and apologize and make excuses
("My resume isn't really current, and I don't have access to a fax machine,"
etc., OR they will say, "Sure. I can do that!) THAT'S the response I
would expect my salespeople to offer a customer in need. Then check
the time/date stamp on the fax and calculate how long it took them to
get it to you. More than a couple of hours is too long. You can reasonably
ignore the resume, except for the references. Call them and ask, "Tell
me about your experience with Mr. Smith. . ." If the references check
out, call the applicant and invite them in for a face-to-face interview.
By now you should have already decided that you would like to hire this
person, or don't bother with the interview. Sell the Position During
the face-to-face interview, your primary objective is to sell them the
job, and get them excited about the possibility of working for your
firm. Give them the tour. Give other key personnel in the office an
opportunity to meet them.
Finally, after meeting
all the finalists, make an offer to your favorite candidate(s).
Each of these hurdles
is designed to give your candidate an opportunity to sell themselves
to you as a potential employee. It is this sales behavior
more than any other factor that is the predictor of their success.