When recruiting, how do you find out how well your candidate can sell?

07 June 2012 by Charles Howden

When you hired your last sales professional, how did you satisfy yourself that they could actually perform a selling role? And in particular, the “last three foot” part of the sales process. The face-to-face progressing of a sale through to the agreement stage (for transactional selling, let’s call that “closing”).

Part of our recruitment process includes role playing face-to-face sales meetings. Depending on the type of seller we are looking for (transactional versus consultative) we set up a sales meeting giving the candidate a one page brief. We then take the role of the buyer and allow the seller to do their best.

After the exercise we give feedback to the candidate pointing out their strengths, and their development areas. Sometimes we’ll run the exercise more than once to give a promising candidate the opportunity to show us the flexibility of their selling style.

We’ve always had positive feedback from candidates, even the unsuccessful ones. Top class sellers should be comfortable with role play. It is, after all, the tool of choice for sales managers who are taking an active role in developing their sellers’ skills.

So next time you are hiring, take some time with your shortlisted candidates to see if they really can sell as well as they promise.

After all, it’s always better to find your candidates weaknesses before you hire them…

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