How to Separate the Good Consultative Sales Hire from the Bad


It is all too easy to be persuaded by a consultative sales candidate that they are right for your job opening—effective persuasion is their stock in trade.

But that does not mean that they will be a good addition to your sales team. How do you sift through multiple job seekers to find the select few good hires?

There are no guarantees, of course, but here are some tips that, if followed, will significantly enhance the odds that you choose the right consultative sales person for the job.

  • Don’t rely on talking just with the interviewee. Talk with references who can give you the inside scoop. Seek out former customers. They are likely to be forthcoming with their impressions and you want to know that the candidate you choose will represent your company in a positive way.
  • Marshal sales team members as interviewers. They know what it takes to succeed at the job and what personality characteristics would mesh well with current co-workers.
  • Use documents to substantiate what you are hearing from the candidate. A quick look at W-2 records will let you know if they were as successful in driving revenue as they would like you to believe.
  • There are many assessments available that predict sales success. Make use of them. You want to know upfront if the candidate can succeed through the entire sales cycle from cold calls to closing, from qualifying prospects to effective negotiation, from product/service presentation to account management. All these skills will be tested and the scores will give you a pretty good indication of a salesperson’s overall ability to sell consultatively effectively.
  • You will hear about their record of success without asking. But often it is the failures that measure a salesperson’s perseverance and willingness to learn and adapt. Ask the candidate to tell you about a situation where they lost the consultative sales deal and what they learned from the experience.
  • Test them on the spot. Pick an object in your office—a paperweight, a lamp, whatever—and ask them to “sell” it to you. You will quickly learn their methodology and style. Are they pushy? Do they ask questions in discovery mode? Do they consider your needs? Would you characterize their style as product-focused or consultative? It is then up to you to determine which style would fit better with your company. 

Use the checklist above next time you are in hiring mode as sales manager. You will have far better chances of bringing a “keeper” aboard.

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