The number one thing I grade candidates on is how well did they run their sales process on me?
If you’re a job candidate in sales, you should be managing your job application process just like you’d run your sales process with a potential customer.
This is arguably the most important sales process your candidate will be running, as it’s a reflection of how they are likely to manage relationships with prospects.
This is part 2 of a 3 part series. In Part 1, we looked at how I got over 375k views on my job posting when I was filling our head of partnerships role a few years ago. Today, we’ll be using that same example to look “under the hood” at our recruitment selection and hiring process here at Sales Hacker.
How To Quickly Disqualify Unfit Candidates
During my search for a new head of partnerships a few years ago (a role that is now filled happily by Scott Barker), I had only one candidate get an intro from someone I highly respect and that speaks at our conferences. I had only one candidate reach out to my previous sales hire before contacting me about the job. I had zero candidates get referred or endorsed by friends in the comments section. Only one candidate followed up with me across multiple channels, not just LinkedIn or email.
On the flip side, I had multiple candidates fill out the simple form improperly, write me illegibly or in a rushed manner, or not even connect with me on LinkedIn before writing or applying.
This is the easiest way to disqualify and rank candidates quickly. Because the role has such a relationship building focus, and this is extremely important to us.
The second round assignment through Google Forms went out shortly after I ranked folks based off their sales process, experience, endorsements, and activity on LinkedIn.
These deeper questions were meant to uncover how they think about the sales process. Our sell is very consultative and needs a creative person in control. The role requires someone who can ask the right questions and then figure out the right package for our partners that will achieve their goals while scoring us the best margins.
I wanted to see how they’re thinking through building out our Total Addressable Market and list of potential partners, how they’ll get contact info and reach out, how they’ll work existing deals in frequently occurring or rare situations, and how thorough and structured they are.
How To Narrow It Down When You Have Lots Of REALLY Good Candidates
After the first 2 rounds of questions, I was able to narrow down the candidates from 150+, to 30, to 10, to 8, to 4.
At this stage, it’s time to get on the phone with the top 4 candidates. Again, I’m running this like a sales process. Sure, I have details I’d like to get from them, but I’m really looking to see what questions they’re going to ask me.
Are they going to qualify the opportunity? Will they ask to speak to my previous employee? Will they ask what we did in revenue this year and what the previous sales employee took home in pay? What other questions will they ask about the job that can help them qualify it to move forward? This is a huge step people often fail on.
After the first call, I have some more info on them and I’m starting to be able to see more of their sales process. The next step is to see when they follow up and what they say.
Three of the four final candidates were very similar, with one being an outlier. This was fantastic, because it helped me understand if my internal GPS was correct. If the outlier interviews the best, then I would need to look for and talk to more candidates that are similar to make sure I’m on the right track.
Once qualified to this point, I know a lot about the candidate. I know how they work, think, and run a sales process. I will also understand the fit from a cultural perspective. It’s very important that I can trust this person to attend a conference like Marketo Summit on their own and they’ll represent us well. These types of things you learn along the way from signals in their LinkedIn profile, their writing, and their communication skills.
Final Candidate Test Project
My final assignment is based on two very important things that involve the creativity and sales acumen needed to really own the job. Since this isn’t just your average sales role, this hire really needs to own the Partnership side of the business.
Part 1: Candidates were asked exactly how they would overcome some common objections in the sales process. This is our main role playing scenario and varies greatly from deal to deal. There’s a level a creativity needed here that isn’t taught in SaaS or other B2B sales.
Part 2: Candidates were asked to review what we were selling and provide feedback on what they would add, change, or make better. It worked out to be a great exercise that made our docs clearer and the packages more enticing, while also being able to see how the candidate’s mind works. This last part ended up showing a level of passion for the role that set the final candidates apart from each other.
At this point my decision was pretty much made. The final step was to reach out to a couple of references and then make the hire.
Sales Hiring: Key Learnings For Employers
-Articulate the job, and what they’ll get out of it in terms of their career. People don’t want boring jobs. They want to feel fulfilled at work. The best people want great opportunities. They want roles that are stepping stones towards their goals.
-Write a job description you’re proud to share with your network, competitors, customers, and future and current employees. This is a massive representation of your company to the masses. Don’t make it dull, boring, and self serving. Make it about what you want employees to get from the experience.
-Many of the comments I got read the job application and, while they weren’t looking, recommended others. With some people our post just built overall goodwill which is another reason to make sure it resonates with the desired audience.
-Share it with your network and hire through current employees. They know your business best and will evangelize for you. If you’re not doing this, you’re missing out on low hanging fruit. There are SaaS companies doing this right now like Teamable.
Put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re trying to hire. What would you want to see? This is your hiring top of the funnel. Don’t half-ass it!
Check out part 3 on my key learnings for anyone trying to get hired in the immediate future!
Also published on Medium.