Brand new clients often ask, "I wish I had stronger salespeople selling for us. What's the Sandler secret?" Our answer: 1) Unlearn your present interviewing system, which probably relies on what your gut says. 2) Use a reliable hiring profile that's built only for salespeople, and one that tells you the real truth, and most importantly, 3) Change the sales culture YOU created in the first place. People who don't produce at the least acceptable level must be fired.
And remember managers: The degree of difficulty in firing salespeople increases exponentially the longer they work for you. You want stronger salespeople? Become a stronger interviewer; Terminate the deadwood, and get objective outside advice.
What's the Sandler secret for developing a strong sales team? Unlearn your present interviewing practices, which may rely on your gut and intuition more than hard facts. This applicant was someone else's salesperson. Salespeople who turnover get good at giving you the answers you like to hear. They morph into a "professional interviewee" while you remain a "part-time interviewer."
Learn Sandler's "Rule of Three Plus": It takes three or more questions to learn the truth. The interviewee's first response will always be intellectual. To "unlock the real applicant" you need to hear his/her real, emotionally-based, answers. (Sounds just like a sales call, doesn't it?) Next, instead of using your bonding skills, try "anti-bonding." Make the applicant work extra hard to bond with you. After all, isn't that what your prospects will do subconsciously to him or her in the field? Why do you attempt to "bond" with this individual on that first interview? It's a mistake made by millions of sales managers; due to human nature, you want to impress the applicant personally and with your company. Get good at unlocking the real applicant.
What's the Sandler secret for developing stronger salespeople? Unlearn your present interviewing system. Avoid the "rose-colored glasses" syndrome, especially if you are in a hurry to fill a vacated territory or slot on the team. If you like a candidate, make sure someone else in your company (who understands sales) conducts an interview, too. Of course, make sure you both conduct "negative" interviews. Neither of you should "blue-sky" the job. Let the applicant sell you on why he or she belongs, instead of you selling your company to this applicant. Ask the applicant how he or she would generate leads if none were provided by the company. Listen carefully as he or she tells you how much cold calling he or she is willing to do: anyone who says "I'll work referrals" is NOT the person you want opening new accounts. Avoid hiring through rose-colored glasses.
What's the Sandler secret to developing a stronger sales force? Change the sales culture YOU put in place. Do what the Fortune 500 companies do: not only should you write out a detailed job description, but include exactly who fits the bill. Remember to include traits the ideal candidate needs to have, like "Doesn't externalize failures but takes responsibility for the problem," as an example. The tighter your job description, the better shot you have of finding a good, strong match. Hire to fit the job, not the other way around.