Chapter 4

The Science of Hiring Sales Talent

In the past, I had an idea of the kind of person I wanted to hire. I'd even write out a list of 10 or 20 adjectives describing what I thought a hardened salesperson should be like. Even so, it was all touchy-feely and subjective. Now I have a PRO, and do a PI for every serious job candidate. It's not the be-all and end-all; you still have to take into account the SSAT, age, experience, and the interview. Even so, I rarely interview anyone who is outside the PRO, because it describes the behavior I'm looking for.

—Harley Ostlund, President, Harden Manufacturing

Probably the most important task in every sales manager's job description is hiring the right people. Unfortunately, most sales managers have only the vaguest idea of how to go about doing this.

Sales managers understand they need candidates who can be a trusted advisor to their customers, but they lack any objective standard for identifying the type of person who'd be likely to inspire trust. Similarly, they know they need candidates who are self-starters and highly motivated, but sales managers lack the skill to identify those characteristics during the interview process.

Sales managers are woefully aware of how bad they're failing when it comes to picking good candidates, according to Dr. Todd Harris, director of science at PI Worldwide. “Most sales managers estimate that only 40 percent to 60 percent of their current sales professionals are prepared to execute even the basic ...

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