By Lianne Gong, Senior Recruiter, Anaplan UK

Every business needs them, but very few actually have them — good sales people. In fact, a recent report from Cranfield Management School has found that 9 out of 10 sales staff struggle pitch effectively. How can businesses ensure they’re hiring the best sales reps?

1. Evaluate personality and culture fit

Underperformance is often the result of a mismatching between the traits of the job and natural traits of an employee. Of course, it is possible for employees to compensate for this natural mismatch but the ideal scenario is to find a candidate whose natural personality matches the qualities needed for the job.

Evaluation and personality assessment tools can give employers a good indication of the candidate’s fit, reducing the risk of an interviewer being duped by the hologram that people project in an interview situation. While it is not an exact science, it has been proven time and again that it can help to weed out mis-hires. In fact, Accenture recently found that 65% of Chief Sales Officers believe competency testing can improve hiring success rates, although only 52% are putting that insight into action.

2. Beef up the interview process

A comprehensive and rigorous interview process is key for making the right sales hire. To enable that within your organization, develop an interview guide so that questions and format are consistent, regardless of who is conducting the interview. Make sure you include a number of behaviour-based questions, such as:

• What accomplishment over the course of your career has given you the greatest sense of achievement at work? Why?
• All jobs have frustration, especially sales. What are some examples of challenges in your job that frustrate you, and how do you deal with them?
• No one is successful 100% of the time. Can you provide me with two examples of work situations in which you did not succeed, and why?
• Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty in closing a sale. What did you do?

Consider investing in formal training in interview techniques, to improve your hiring managers’ and other interviewers’ success in this area.

3. Don’t forget about onboarding

Once a business has found the right candidate, and they’ve signed their hiring agreement, too often that’s the end of the hiring process. But without effective new employee onboarding, the chances of failure are high. In addition to general onboarding to align them with the corporate culture, a comprehensive sales onboarding process should be developed, to include detailed training on the company’s product, value proposition, and selling processes, and an overview of the tools and resources available to them to effectively put that training into action on the job.