A few days ago a former salesperson of mine contacted me. He knows that I now help companies to hire great salespeople. We will call him “Sam” for the sake of this article, in order to protect his identity. Sam is almost unquestionably the BEST salesperson I have ever hired. Now, there is one thing about Sam that some people may consider to be a shortcoming – quite frankly he is too good…but more about that later.
Sam sent me this message to tell me how a company that he was interviewing with totally blew the opportunity to add this top salesperson to their team. Below Sam’s comments you will see the results of a sales candidate assessment that Sam completed.
“Hey Wayne, I thought you’d find this interesting. I recently connected to a hiring manager through a friend regarding a similar position to what I am doing now, but for a different company. Without knowing too much about the position or the pay I accepted the interview and met with both the manager and another employee. The manager was very confident in his own abilities and grilled me extremely hard, he took out a red pen, marked up my resume and basically told me most of the things on my resume were either BS or embellishments.

His questions were insane like “if you had to go to a potluck for a customer what would you bring?”

At the end of the interview he told me how much he made and how much his team made, the funny thing is that I am earning more than the manager and his teammates. It’s super frustrating to me as a candidate that none of this was vetted prior to the hour long meeting. The guy was a total jerk, the meeting was a total waste of time and I believe both of us walked out frustrated, additionally the next job seeker after me was waiting right behind me for his turn. Weird. I thought you’d find that interesting. I have had 2 or 3 of these types of interviews in the last year or so and its extremely frustrating not knowing up front what I’m walking into. If the pay, benefits, and intangibles don’t line up I don’t want to waste my time. Additionally recruiters seem to just muddy the waters as they are playing for their own team and selling both sides of the field, i.e. the job seeker and the employer. All in all the system as it stands is horrible.”

So what do you think of Sam’s experience? Let’s hope that your sales hiring process has no similarities to this….BUT… I often find that there is friction in sales hiring processes that drives away top talent. Be careful. Many companies have been burned by bad sales hires and so they have responded by making their process difficult, onerous, and sometimes they have added “Magic/weird” questions like the potluck question!
Sam has mentioned that he has considered getting into the consulting business. I would strongly consider adding him as an associate in my business within the next 6-12 months. So, I had him complete a sales assessment to verify that he is as strong as I think he is.

For those of you who have read some of my posts before, you will know that Sam is an incredibly talented salesperson. Because I know Sam, I also know that he can be a very solid team seller and is very easy to work with if the sales manager is good at their craft.

Now…here is the one thing that would turn off SOME companies… Sam’s “Longevity” finding in the assessment indicated that he may not be with the company for a long time, probably about 3 years. So, if you want salespeople to stay forever, he may not be a good fit. (Note that Sam has been with his current company for about 2.5 years and is doing great but now he is willing to take interviews again) But, it is likely that Sam will sell more in 3 years than many of your “long timers” will sell in 6 or 7 years… and while he is doing it he will be pushing your “long timers”. How do you feel about that? (better to get 3 amazing years of value or a lifetime of mediocrity?)

Bottom line is that you really need to look hard at your Sales recruiting process to make sure it is not driving away talent like Sam. If you have other people interviewing the sales talent… are they acting like clowns? Do you have something in your process to help keep the best talent interested and to keep the process moving? Do you have a process that includes a “Triage Call” of the candidates before you both take the time to meet face to face or via Skype for an hour or more?

Would love to hear your thoughts… How do you keep the most talented salespeople in the process?

For salespeople, how do you feel about Sam’s comments on the interview processes that he has encountered? What have you experienced?