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Thought For The Day

Recruiting Superior Sales Talent - Step 5, Qualify

© The Gulas Group 2010

As far as the importance of steps, "qualify" is listed as one of the least important. If you are off a bit on this step, your formal interview process could make up for the difference. You do have to consider how much time you can waste by not qualifying correctly. In terms of sequence, it is the third step in the process coming after "test".

Now that you do have several candidates that have been recommended from the sales screening, you have to qualify the best of the best. During this process focus on the candidate's ability to execute your sales process. You can consider the cultural fit to your organization's culture later on in the process.

The first thing you should do is create a spreadsheet so you can qualify all candidates uniformly, objectively and quickly. The first column is the names and numbers of the candidates. Next, you want to build the columns to use as part of an initial phone conversation between your administrative staff and the candidate. Here is a list of columns for the administrative person to use: presence, rapport, articulate, warmth. You should use 1 point for each column. The administrative personnel will usually know a professional sounding person on the other end the phone that they would let speak to someone on the executive staff. The candidate is asked what their schedule looks like over the next few days to coordinate a call back with the executive, provided they make the cut to the next stage of phone interviews. You can also include a few other background questions such as "how long have you been looking for a position like this?" Next, you can ask are they currently employed. The candidates that the administrative team scores well will be called back for a 15 minute phone interview with the executive.

Next, expand the existing spread sheet to include these new columns that the executive will fill out: experience meets criteria, closing ability, meets technical requirements and handled put off. Each gets 2 points with the exception of they handled put off which receives 4 points. A philosophy to consider when the executive returns the call at the allotted time with the candidate is to put them under the same pressure as if they were cold calling a suspect. You do not have to be as rude as some suspects, but be very matter of fact and assertive with your time to the point that you end your call before the allotted time. You can use a statement such as this to close your phone screening. "Some will be receiving a call by 4 PM today from our administrative staff. If you do receive that call, you will then be invited in to participate in the formal interview. If you do not receive that call today you failed to make the next round." After the end of the call, if they attempt to keep you on the phone with any kind of question, award them 4 points.

Some of the questions to discuss on this phone interview sound like this: "What in our advertisement or what the recruiter told you piqued your curiosity enough that you are excited about being candidate for this position?" This one question will tell you a lot about their vision, values, research and preparedness. You can also ask them to tell you about your web site. For instance, "what types of clients are we trying to reach and why?" Finally you can ask, "What sales book or developmental courses have you participated in within the last year or so?" That should give you enough information to tally up your score for the next round of formal interviews.

Once you have tallied your scores and made you choices you are ready to use the detailed interview tips from the sales candidate screening. Also at this time you can compare how and why they do what they do based on the benchmarking which is derived from behavior, personal attitudes, interests and values reports. This will tell you how and why they do what they do, which needs to be a good cultural fit to your organization. You can also drill down and do the specific research about their resume to determine certain patterns and education trends. This last part of the qualification process is to prepare your questions in advance and make sure you don't play it by ear in the interview. Score each interview, compare your results to others that interview the candidate, and then let your gut give you some direction for the final call.

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