I have a quick salesperson hiring tip for you today. I am in Las Vegas at the Mirage. I’m at the National Independent Auto Dealers Association (NIADA) Convention and the question I’ll be dealing with today is “Should you hire somebody who has already been in your industry?” It’s a question that’s often asked and I think there are two schools of thought on this.

One school is that you should always look outside your business or industry when you’re hiring sales people because you don’t want somebody who’s developed some bad habits. You’d like somebody who comes from a different industry…someone who has salesperson DNA and Sales competencies…but who you will need to teach the ins and outs of your specific business.  So companies choose not to hire people from their business or industry.

The other reason that sometimes companies choose not to hire people from within the industry is because they’ve been burned in the past. They’ve hired somebody who had relationships, who had connections, who’d been around the industry, in this case the used car industry, for a long time. You hire them, you put them on board and then they didn’t produce and it was frustrating. Often times salespeople that you hire depend too much on past relationships and do not work hard to identify needs that they can fix with their new product or service. So, that’s one school of thought…Don’t hire them.

The other school of thought is from companies who hire these people all the time and in fact sometimes their salesforce is made up entirely of people who were hired from other competing businesses perhaps or from adjacent business within the industry. And a lot of times those people as a whole are under performing and the company may not even realize what they’re missing out on because they haven’t gone outside for talent.

So, my thought on hiring people from your industry and from a tradeshow is that you definitely can do it. Sometimes it’s even a good a idea. There is a Right way that you should hire salespeople from within your industry. So,an exhibit hall like this, where a bit later there’s going to be loads of salespeople from this industry, is a great place to network, it’s a great place to grab business cards, connect with people who could be your next future sales rock star. And if they know your business, if they have some connections, and if they can sell, it could be a great match.

So, my tip is: Definitely go to shows like this! Connect with a lot of people, observe them in their tradeshow booth and when you walk up to them, connect with them on LinkedIn but then you need to run them through the whole process that you’ve run all of your other sales candidates through. You need to vet them thoroughly just like you would other sales candidates.

In my system, vetting them means:

1.) Take an online application from them with a few short questions that are pertinent to your business. These should include Questions that you specifically formulate for the sales role that you’ve defined.

2.) Send the invite to candidates so that they can complete your salesperson specific online assessment.

3.) Schedule your “triage call”. Run your fast 10-minute call where you ask them a whole pile of questions. Then you make the decision as to where you show them the door or move them on to the next step.

4.) Invite those who pass to your entire onsite audition process which may or may not include time in the field working with one of your people.

To conclude, I think a tradeshow is a great place to meet people but you can’t rely on just their experience in your industry or their connections to get you through. You have to assess whether they can really sell in your specific selling environment using your specific system. And you need to know, are they going to be trainable and coachable so that you can bring to them the way that you know works. If you like this, I appreciate your likes. Have a great day!