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Hiring Sales Guerrillas
By Orvel Ray Wilson   Printer Friendly Version

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 Mail
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 (phone number).

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 Directions?
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.

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