At the top of the list of challenges for SMB B2B CEO’s is hiring sales reps, as shown in the proof that every single client of ours is hot on the trail to hire additional sales personnel. We all know that hiring sales reps is extremely difficult – you are rolling the dice on a large investment, with the HOPE that you will have hired a performer that is equal to, or better than what you already have in your team. If you end up making a poor hiring decision, you typically won’t figure it out for another 6-9 months, leaving a large amount of money and a lost opportunity in the wake of your decision.

In order optimize your chances of hiring a great sales rep, we recommend gathering the following information when assessing a new sales hire.

  1. Income Verification.Yes, you should verify income with any rep that you plan on hiring. Income verification is a touchy subject because most people are afraid to ask the question for fear of turning away the prospective hire. Here’s the bottom line- people lie, especially when it comes to compensation. If you are going to lay out a plan that either bridges a prior commission plan or entices someone to leave a good situation, trust and honesty are two items that need to be quickly validated in the front end of the relationship. High performing individuals are proud of the money they make and aren’t deterred from flaunting fat W2’s. I would think that most CEO’s and VP’s of Sales would  prefer to hire individuals with healthy earnings in past lives, with the desire and hunger to maintain a comfortable living based on future success.
  2. Detailed Hunting Process. Typically, companies hire to the sales team because they are seeking net new logos. Unless the role is defined as “account management”, these new hires are required to be pure hunters. Being a successful hunter requires a detailed plan of attack. Rogue hunters are not consistently successful; they are successful in spurts, primarily at the start of a new job. Asking a prospective hire to lay out a plan (when in the interview) as to how they would prospect a territory, is not out of line. In fact, I would ask them to whiteboard the process over a live and impromptu session. This should give you a clear indication as to how much of the planning is innate versus derived from previous exercises.
  3. 5 Writing Samples. Written communications are considered a critical success factor in today’s age of B2B communications. Because it is becoming more difficult to contact and engage B2B buyers, the various forms of written channels are emerging as more prevalent avenues for connecting with your buyer personas. Outside of evaluating the candidate’s social media profiles, LinkedIn, and email exchanges, we recommend that you ask your prospects to submit various writing samples that mirror the types of communication they may have with your clients. Assessing written communications may uncover various characteristics that you may not be able to visualize during an interview. With a large part of a sales role requiring writing as a high volume task within the position, why not vet out this skill as well?
  4. 3 Former Client References. Everyone has (selective) references that are willing to tell a wonderful story. How about requesting 3-4 specific client references that can vouch for the pursuit, the close, the relationship value, the management of the relationship, the credibility, and the trust of the sales candidate? It’s critical to dig real deep into these references. When I say dig deep, I mean ask ALL of the tough questions that give you a complete assessment to understand whether or not they have sales champion pedigree. Don’t be afraid to find out why clients selected your candidate to work with specifically and how they compare against competition. Evaluate the client’s buying process and how this candidate engaged in the relationship over the life of the process. These references, if checked effectively, could become the determining factor for a hiring decision.

Many companies play the odds game by hiring a slew of reps and weeding them out through the process of natural selection, but if you don’t have the luxury of this model and need to make each decision count, make sure to ask these 4 questions to all of your candidates. After all, you’re only hiring for the future of your revenue stream.

Here’s Bonus Material if you think that you’ve got all of the answers on evaluating sales metrics: