So, you have sourced a shortlist of software sales candidates; some through recruiting agencies, and some on your own. On paper, they all look good. They vary slightly by experience, but now it is time to get down to the nitty gritty.
Like in all hiring, trying to decide which candidate will work out the best is hard. You are trying to determine, without really knowing the person that well, which candidate will give you maximum performance once hired.
It is important to remember that interviewing is imperfect. You are basically asking someone questions in a bid to determine how successful they will be at software sales. The candidate is trying to present themselves in the best light possible, and you are trying to pick holes in the story.
Here are 5 tips on determining future performance based on past performance for software sales professionals.
- Find out what the average sales size, and average length of sales cycle, is in current and previous roles. Higher numbers and longer cycles will indicate they have been involved in long-play, consultative solutions, whereas lower numbers with shorter cycles will indicate a more transactional sales. Neither one is better than the other. You are just looking for someone who has experience with the type of sale that you require.
- Single product versus multi-product. Did they work for a large multinational who have a portfolio of products to sell from? Or is their experience more to do with selling a single product? Different skills are required. Choose someone whose experience is aligned with your product(s).
- Who do they have experience calling in to? If your ideal lead is the COO, then choose candidates who have experience calling into COOs. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same type of product as yours. In fact if is a different product, but the same type of lead, they may be able to start calling from day 1, without there being a conflict of interest with a past employer.
- Verify income. In their last role, if their OTE was $200K based on a quote of $1million, and they beat the quota, then their W2 should be more than $200K. Simple.
- Do your own reference checks. Do not rely on third parties to do reference checks – you will always care more about the result than anyone else. References should be a direct manager, not a friend or someone else in the department.
When we think of assessing job candidates, most of us think of the traditional job interview. While this is a valid method (if done correctly), there are a number of alternatives that can be done individually, or in tandem, depending on the role at hand. Here are five suggestions…
- Traditional Interview. For a traditional interview to be effective, a few things need to happen. First and foremost, the interviewer has to be trained, experienced and smart. Decide in advance what an ideal candidate looks like. Write this at the top of your notes. Then create a number of questions that point to this statement. Finally (and this really must be done in advance), decide what a good answer should look like for each of these questions. Then, compare the candidate’s answers with the ideal answers.
- Video Assessment. We are of course fans of this. It measures both communications skills and technical competency, both key components to a sales position. Also, by simple virtue of completing the assessment, you are indicating that you are prepared to take that extra step to make the sale (get the job).
- Practical Test. Not so much for sales, but more geared toward roles with hard skills, such as software development. Give the candidate an assignment and a time limit. Do this on premise so you can be sure no one is helping them complete the task.
- Behavioral Assessment. This is very good for roles where personality is important, such as sales, management consulting, marketing and HR. These assessments have become very accurate in recent years. Just make sure you are testing for the right personality traits, or results can be skewed.
- Temp-to-Perm. There is always the Try-Before-You-Buy model. Effectively, this is one long paid interview.