Columnists Brad Huisken Recruiting & hiring salespeople: Your people set you apart from the competition

Recruiting & hiring salespeople: Your people set you apart from the competition

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Have you ever hired somebody that you felt was going to be a fabulous salesperson and they ended up stinking up the place and not working out? On the other hand have you ever hired somebody and settled for what you felt was a warm body, and they ended up being one of the best people you have ever hired? I am sure the answer is “yes” if you have hired any number of people for your business. Effective hiring has always, and will continue to be, one of the great mysteries. However, I know that the only thing that really separates one jewelry store from another is the people that they have dealing with and selling to their customers. The following are some points to help increase you chances of hiring the right person for your sales position.

As sales manager you need to:

  1. Have a large pool of people from which to make your decision.
  2. Maintain a constant recruiting effort.
  3. Be prepared for unforeseen staff changes.

Recruiting/Finding Applicants

There are numerous sources for a jewelry store owner or sales manager to find applicants for a sales position.  Keep in mind that you are not looking for the so-called “qualified applicant.”  There is no such thing as a qualified applicant, unless they have worked for you in the past.  The only thing that would pre-qualify one applicant over another is through him/her having some product knowledge in the jewelry industry.  However, as you know, product knowledge can be learned in a relatively short period of time.

Sources of Applicants

  • Have a recruiting poster in your place of business
  • Offer a recruiting bonus to your existing staff
  • Print a recruiting statement on your business card
  • DECA & JA Coordinators at schools
  • Placement Coordinators at Colleges and Trade Schools
  • Steal them from other businesses
  • Your customers
  • Electronic Help Wanted resources
  • Job Fairs
  • Help Wanted Ads (do not place a help wanted ad in the help wanted section of the newspaper – place your ad in the design or fashion section of the newspaper. The people that read the help wanted ads may not be the people you want to hire)

Interviewing

A common mistake made by owners and sales managers is giving the applicant the answers to questions before they are even asked.

For example: If you say that you are looking for an aggressive, motivated, self- starter, in your advertisement or to start an interview - chances are, that when you ask them to tell you about themselves, they will tell you that they are aggressive, motivated, self-starters.

Your interviews must be designed to find out as much about the applicants as possible.  Through effective questions, you will find out all you will need to know to make your decision.  Your goal throughout the interview process is to make them comfortable enough to open up and give you the valuable information you’ll need.  Come out from behind the desk and make the interview into a one-on-one conversation rather than a pressure packed interview.  The end of the interview is the time to sell the applicant on working for you and to ask their questions.  Stay in control of the interview process and remember, you ask the questions until the end of the interview.

1st Interview

The first interview with an applicant should be designed to eliminate applicants rather than to make a final decision.  You will need to bring your possible choices down to 3 - 5 people for second interviews.  I don’t believe that you should ever hire an individual on the first meeting.  Even if you have to reschedule a second interview for later that day or the next day.

Through the course of the first interview you will be asking general questions to see if the applicant can carry on a conversation, is self-motivated, has had problems with past employers, is reliable, stable, and will fit in with the rest of the staff.  You will also want to let him/her know the generalities of the pay plan and benefits that are offered in addition to what is expected of him/her.

1st Interview Questions

  • Why did you leave your last position(s)?
  • Why do you want to leave your current position?
  • What did you like the most about your job?
  • What did you dislike the most about your last job?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What has been your biggest success?
  • What has been your biggest failure?
  • What kinds of people do you get along with the best?
  • What kinds of people do you seem to not get along with?
  • What do you like the most about sales?
  • What do you dislike about selling?
  • What is your selling background?
  • What is your basic sales philosophy?
  • What are your immediate professional goals?
  • What do you find attractive about working for our company?

2nd Interview

The second interview should be designed to give you the answers you will need to make your final decision.  You will be looking for answers to your questions to determine whether the applicant is willing to work by your rules and regulations, has the drive to be successful in sales, is honest, believes in integrity, has personal goals, and is trainable and coachable.

2nd Interview Questions

  • What do you feel is more important, success or money?
  • What are your goals for the next year?
  • What are your goals for the next ten years?
  • What do you feel it takes to be successful in sales?
  • What do you feel would be appropriate action if you were not reaching your sales goals within three months?
  • What kind of formal sales training have you had in the past?
  • What are your thoughts about role-playing sales situations?
  • What would you do if the prospect was willing to buy our product but was misinformed about its use?
  • How often do you make mistakes?
  • What do you do when you have made a mistake?
  • What would you like to tell me about yourself that may help me make my decision?
  • How do you feel about commission sales?

Again, at the end of the interview it is important that you allow the applicants the time and opportunity to ask you questions about your company and the job.  You must also use this opportunity to tell the applicants exactly what will be required of them as far as training, accountability, coaching, and your sales and customer service standards.  The second interview is also the time to talk directly about the salary or pay plan that you are offering.

Testing

During the second interview is also the time to give the applicant any tests that you feel are appropriate for the position. Sales Aptitude, Honesty, Hand-Writing analysis and Basic Skills are all tests that are tremendous tools in helping to avoid a costly hiring error.

Checking References

Every applicant that makes it through, as a potential new hire after the second interview should have references checked.  In checking references the main question that you want answered is: Would they be eligible for re-hire?

In addition, you would want to ask questions to: verify what they had told you in the interview, productivity, and discover any honesty or integrity issues.  You would also want to verify any pay information that they had given you. Many companies won’t offer any information when it comes to checking references, but most will let you know if they are eligible for re-hire.

Making The Decision

You will need to consider the following when making your final decision:

  1. The answers to your interview questions.
  2. Their ability to carry on a conversation.
  3. Whether they maintain direct eye contact with you.
  4. Their skills, ability, and knowledge.
  5. Whether they will fit in with the rest of the staff.
  6. Their internal drive.
  7. Your gut feelings.

Hiring Don’ts

  • Don’t judge all applicants by one great interview.
  • Don’t eliminate applicants who may be over-qualified.
  • Don’t eliminate applicants who may have to take a pay decrease.
  • Don’t eliminate applicants who want more money than you offer.
  • Don’t lose control of the interview.
  • Don’t waste time with people you know won’t work out.
  • Don’t sell the position first.
  • Don’t allow any prejudices in your decision-making.
  • Don’t sell the position with unreasonable promises or expectations.

While you can never guarantee that the person you hire is going to work out, increase the likelihood that they will be successful by following these guidelines. Then after hiring you have to train the applicant to be successful. The number one thing that people want out of their jobs is the ability to be and feel successful. Giving the new hire the skills, knowledge, training and thus the ability to be successful will increase the odds that your new hire will become a productive member of your staff. It is up to the jewelry store owner/sales manager to train the individual to be successful!

Visit www.iastraining.com to subscribe to Brad Huisken’s free weekly newsletter called “Sales Insight”, or for any of his training programs. To contact IAS Training directly call 800-248-7703 or fax 303-936-9581.

 
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