The #1 Mistake When Interviewing Salespeople
When I think back on the years I’ve spent in the recruiting space, I’m reminded of hundreds of salespeople that I’ve gotten hired. The commonality among most of these instances is that sales managers would express that, “We lost the candidate because another company was able to make a higher offer.” Although this is sometimes correct, it’s more often a misreading of the situation.
Over 10 years ago, I was offered a sales role at a company. The hiring manager, who I genuinely liked, offered me a base salary that was 30% lower than what I was making at the time. He explained that he had not yet created the commission structure, that it was a new division and he wasn’t sure what my quota would be. Additionally, the commute was taxing as I would have to drive to the suburbs from the city every day. This drive would take at least an hour in each direction, and there wasn’t even product in the warehouse for me to sell.
This sounds like a horrible deal that nobody would accept, right? Well, I ended up accepting.
The hiring manager did such an excellent job at making me feel wanted and special. Not only did I accept the position, but I did so with genuine excitement. The manager would follow-up with me regularly, keeping me informed, reminding me of how much he wanted me on the team, assuring me that he would always have my back. This made me feel supported, as he really expressed that he recognized my talent and saw the potential in regard to what I would bring to the table. How could I say no to that?
This process is similar to dating. If one potential partner tells the other how great they are, and how much they’re appreciated, chances are their interest will increase. Everybody wants to feel loved and appreciated, and this is true whether it’s a relationship or a job.
The moral of the story here is that if you’re really excited about a candidate, make sure to tell them. Too many managers have the mentality of, “They’re just going to accept a job with whoever pays them the most,” but this isn’t always the case.
Let your candidate know that you want to hire them, find reasons to remain in contact and treat it almost as if like you would a sales prospect. If things are delayed for some reason, call them and let them know. Invite them for a casual lunch, a coffee, or for a discussion just to stay in touch and remind them that they are an integral part of the team you are building.
If you want a top salesperson, you should be wooing them. You might not be able to pay the most, have the nicest office or be in the best location. However, if you can make them feel like you and your team want them there badly, the chances of them accepting your offer will drastically increase.