With company culture an increasingly important factor for candidates considering new jobs, it’s crucial for sales managers and leaders to take stock of the non-financial rewards their organisations offer. And with 84% of employees saying they would consider moving to another employer with culture and values more closely aligned with their own, according to Glassdoor, it’s clear that how a sales person fits into your team and organisation – and indeed, how comfortable and confident they feel in the environment – is imperative to their success, and ultimately yours as a business.

Cultural fit is paramount for retaining great sales talent – and reducing high levels of staff turnover – and is something demanded by candidates across the field. Nearly two-thirds of employees (62%) said they would be prepared to take a pay cut to work for an organisation that offers a better cultural fit, with over half (52%) willing to take a pay cut of up to 10%, highlighting the importance of job satisfaction.

Hiring someone who is not a great fit can result in conflict within your team, unhappy and unproductive sales people, and ultimately a loss of sales and staff. Find out how to avoid it by assessing cultural fit to ensure your new sales people are the right match for your team.

Find out what a candidate’s ideal workplace looks like

The interview stage of the recruitment process is key for finding out whether or not a potential sales candidate can do the job, but it can also provide vital insight on what they expect from their new employer. Take this opportunity to ask candidates what their ideal workplace looks and feels like, from their working hours and dress code through to social activities and pace of work. Their responses will not only give you an idea of what environment they might prefer, but also whether this vision fits in with the reality of your workplace and what you can offer them. Find out their core values at work – whether it’s a “work hard, play hard” mentality or a fast-paced environment where achievement is rewarded – and use this to gauge if they’re right for you.

If the candidate describes a large, formal, cut-throat corporation while yours is a smaller, more friendly and casual environment, ultimately the candidate may not be happy working for you.

Ask about work style

How a sales person prefers to work says a lot about whether or not they will fit in with your team. Start with the obvious questions, such as whether they prefer to work alone or in a group. Remember that even if a sales person thrives on autonomy, 39% of people globally say they don’t think people in their organisations collaborate enough, which suggests that your new hires should be able to cope with at least some level of teamwork.

You should also pay attention to what motivates a sales person. Get creative in the ways you ask this – you will likely receive a very different response if you read between the lines of responses to some carefully crafted questions, as opposed to asking right out what they value most. For example, ask why they left previous roles, what they enjoyed most about their past experiences, and what they think makes for a happy, healthy work environment. While most sales people will be motivated by money to a large extent, you may be surprised at the different things the modern workforce looks for in a job. For instance, research by Towergate reveals that 88% of employees want a work culture that is collaborative rather that competitive, with work-life balance also heavily favoured.

Ask for specific examples and experiences to help find out whether candidates are organised, take risks, respond well to feedback and are creative in their sales approaches. How they respond should give you a clearer indication on whether their ideals are in line with your company’s, and therefore if they will add value.

Ask how they like to be managed

Just as every sales manager has a slightly different management style, every sales person has preferences on how they like to be directed and trained. It’s your job to find out how manageable they will be, and if your personal approach to sales management will align with how they work best.

You need to establish whether they look for a hands-on or hands-off manager, if they thrive on autonomy and responsibility or look for regular feedback, and how they look to be rewarded and incentivised. This will likely vary further depending on demographic and industry experience – for example, 65% of millennials feel constrained by rigid hierarchies and outdated management styles. Meanwhile, Towergate research says 79% of workers want a boss who is accessible and acts as a mentor.

While you can adapt your management style slightly to respond to the preferred approaches by your sales team, you will likely find it difficult to completely overhaul the way you nurture and develop your people – even if a sales candidate has huge potential. Think carefully before taking someone on who requires a dramatically different approach to what you’re comfortable with.

Get to know them better

Many modern CVs and interviews eschew the ‘interests’ portion altogether, instead focusing on the core skills, education and attributes that are directly relevant for the role. However, as a sales manager it’s vital that you know more about the people who make up your sales team.

More than a third of employees don’t think their employers care about them as team members or people, according to Rapt Media, which can very rapidly lead to disengagement within your team and sales people with one foot out the door. It’s clear that people want to feel valued in their work and treated as individuals, so it’s up to you to make this apparent during the interview process. And as an added benefit, asking candidates about their hobbies and passions can help you understand the type of people they are and whether they’ll fit into your team.

While it’s not essential that all sales people share similar interests, what job applicants tell you about their everyday lives can provide interesting insight into how they might approach their work. For instance, a sales person who runs marathons competitively and has launched their own craft brewery business is likely to be highly driven and competitive, while someone who cherishes time with the family and enjoys baking at the weekend might be more nurturing and a team player.

Involve the team

Finally, one of the easiest – and best – ways to find out if a candidate will be a good fit for your sales team is to involve the team itself. You could ask key sales people to sit in on interviews to ask more of the cultural fit questions, or include a ‘meet the team’ element to final round interviews. Viable candidates can be taken on a tour of the office to see how the business operates, stopping to briefly interact with team members along the way. If you’re hiring for a senior or particularly crucial role, you may even invite final-round candidates to join a team lunch, to see how they interact with others and cope with new situations.

Just be mindful that if you do opt to add separate ‘meet the team’ sessions on top of existing interviews, you risk lengthening the recruitment process.

Ask the experts

There’s so much more to recruiting the right candidate than simply looking at cultural fit, however it is one very important piece of the puzzle. If you’re looking for advice or assistance to help build your sales team, contact us at BMS and see how we can help.