Every quarter we run an informal dinner bringing together 12 to 15 sales leaders to openly discuss their challenges and share best practice and industry trends with their peers in a relaxed environment over some nice food and wine. Here’s a roundup of key discussions:

Train your hiring managers to interview sales people

Everyone in the room had interviewed a sales person but no one had been trained to interview them!  A good salesperson should interview extremely well because it’s essentially a sales situation where they are the product.  So what questions should you be asking beyond the ‘standard’ ones that can be planned for? How should you assess? Getting your interview right is the difference between finding a top performer and an average one so train your hiring managers to get it right first time.

Look beyond the CV to find candidates with the right attitude

A hot discussion! Do you rely too heavily on the CV and therefore miss out on people with the right attitude? Almost everyone recounted a successful example of this. In the past one guest said they’d taken on people they wouldn’t have if they’d only relied on their CV but recently said no to someone based on their CV alone. Everyone agreed calibre was important so next time you’re recruiting look past the facts and figures and focus on attitude and fit for your existing team.

More sales people are coming less prepared to interviews

There was a general view that sales people are coming less prepared to interviews and it’s leaving a bad impression. One guest finds it frustrating when the interviewee doesn’t ask any questions at all. On the flipside, another guest disliked too much preparation, when someone had clearly been coached by their recruiter with exactly what they need to say. Guests agreed that those that want to do better will prepare!

Adjust your recruitment process to appeal to millennials

Millennials have grown up with the internet in their pockets which means they expect quick and easy application processes that they can complete on their mobile. They also get frustrated if they’re not contacted quickly and kept up to date as soon as there’s any feedback.  One guest offers a low salary because they want them to prove themselves over the next 6 months, but those timeframes won’t help them attract millennials. If you’re doing any of these things you could be losing out on quality talent.

Invest more time in planning your interviews

If you don’t segment out responsibilities between 1st and 2nd interviews the same question could be asked twice, or an important question may get missed! Determine who should be at each interview in advance. One guest recalled an interview where someone entered 20 mins late and asked if they were supposed to be involved!  Arriving late, not reading the CV beforehand, candidates notice these issues and may reconsider whether they want to work with you. If you find you’re losing great candidates before the end of the process it’s important to consider these points.

It’s difficult to measure recruitment success

One guest felt if someone had been with them a long time (5+ years) it was a success. But research shows sales people move on within 2 years so how can that be a fair measure? And just because someone stays it doesn’t mean they’re happy. Another guest reckoned they got it 20% right and 80% wrong over the last 20 years which shows how hard it is. Investing in training from the start will help keep your sales people motivated to stay for the future. How do you measure recruitment success?