Rules for Successful Sales Recruiting

In the best-seller First, Break All the Rules, authors Buckingham and Coffman from the Gallup organization assert that great managers do four activities extremely well: select people, set expectations, motivate and develop. Their research (in-depth interviews with over 80,000 managers in more than 400 companies) supports the findings of Baltimore consultants Objective Management Group, which concludes that a top manager with at least eight revenue-producing reports in a growing organization will focus 80% of their time on the following activities: recruiting, accountability, motivation and coaching.

Recruiting is a concern prevalent among managers since many have had to control damage caused by hires who didn’t meet expectations. Hiring the wrong person is a major expense – lost productivity, lost customers, lost opportunities, and costs of replacement recruiting and training. The smaller the business, the worse the financial drain.

Conversely, hiring the right medical sales professional is an essential foundation for building success. Therefore, a comprehensive recruiting process that allows you to seek out top performers is a necessity.

Let’s start by determining what are the key steps in hiring a sales person who can positively impact both revenues and margins.

After significant research and practical experience, Dave Kurlan of Objective Management Group recommends the following sequence of events when hiring top sales personnel. Notice the differences between the sequence and the importance of each of the steps.

Sequence Task Importance

The Most Critical Step

Contrary to popular beliefs that the interview or search is the most critical aspect in the hiring process, Identify is the most critical. You must clearly identify the attributes and experiences of the ideal candidate that can and will translate into success for your unique customer base. The entire process is only as effective as this most ignored step. If you don’t apply an effective, comprehensive effort to step one, you are not likely to find and hire a strong sales person that will succeed.

There is a wide range of processes for identifying ideal candidates. One highly recommended tool is the S.E.A.R.C.H. Matrix designed by Midwest Assessments, Kansas City. The Matrix identifies desired skills, experience; attitudes along with expected results required cognitive skills and desired habits. A client who recently used this tool as part of a comprehensive Positionalysistm said, “I’ve never been more confident in making a hire than the hire I’ve made using this disciplined process.”

The Second Most Critical Step

Although many managers feel that the interview is second in importance, leading employment research companies suggest otherwise. Any candidate can make a positive impression. However, the ability to create a “warm” environment does not indicate the ability to build revenues. Two equally likeable candidates may produce very different results.

Therefore, assessments are the second most important step because they provide objective data about the candidate. In addition to helping you conform to EEOC Guidelines, the right test confirms or challenges your impression of the candidate. There are many assessments designed for unique workplace applications: psychological tests, personality tests, behavioral styles tests, as well as tests that analyze aptitude, values, integrity, and beliefs that support new-business development.

The Interview

Although the interview may be the least significant step in the process, no other step can help you measure self-presentation, composure, maturity, style or resilience.

Clients often ask me to interview candidates for them in order to provide a third-party perspective. Recently, after making a presentation alerting employers to the trap of the “halo” effect (that glow created by good interviewees), I walked into an interview with a candidate who greeted me with a warm, charming aura. She knew how to build rapport quickly. For many jobs, this warmth would be sufficient. However, when high-ticket items are on the line, it’s important to know that the candidate has the strength to ask probing questions. Did she have the ability to discuss price/value of technology and handle concern? By the end of the interview, when she found out that she didn’t have all the beliefs needed to support her success, she turned hostile. She likely would have behaved similarly with clients. So beware of the “halo effect.”

According to a Michigan State University study, it is estimated that over 90% of all hiring decisions are made from an interview, which is only 14% accurate in predicting success. One of the reasons for its lack of reliability is that most people don’t know how to interview. They are not taught the right questions to ask or how to formulate questions. They are not trained on body language, tone of voice and other factors.

One of the advantages of investing in the S.E.A.R.C.H. process is the ability to develop behavioral questions that target the beliefs and experiences needed to succeed. Whereas you have only a 14% success rate with an interview alone, by combining all available resources (reference checking, testing personality, abilities, beliefs and interests, and a well-defined S.E.A.R.C.H. Matrix), you will increase your success rate to 75%.

The Resume

The resume is another tool that is far less important than it once was. A professional resume writer can create a million-dollar resume for just about anyone. Similarly, references have been of questionable value for years since many companies are fearful of legal reprisals. Studies indicate that 30% of resumes are distorted. The National Referencing Corporation reported in Management Style that 30 million people have secured employment by lying on their resumes.

About the only thing a resume can predict is the length of time a candidate may remain with your company and the time of year when he or she is susceptible to a slump. The employment section of the resume is telling. People tend to remain in each job for a certain period of time. You will see this pattern repeated over and over again. Others who change jobs tend to do so at the same time of year. If you employ such a person, expect some kind of depression, distraction, slump, or other downturn in performance at this same time of year.


Successful recruiter’s help organizations keep customers maintain or enhance productivity and leverage sales opportunities. They employ a disciplined process lead by identifying, testing for, and constructing interview questions that help uncover attributes required for developing new business.

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Bio: Danita Bye

Nationally recognized sales management and leadership expert Danita Bye has built her reputation on building and inspiring intentional, no excuse, high-performance sales teams that deliver bottom line results. With her unique Fortune-100 turned-entrepreneur perspective, Danita helps CEOs and company presidents take their national and international businesses to the next level. Her excuse-free approach to sales management, combined with her leadership acumen, enables sales staff and sales management to increase sales, boost profitability and create predictable revenue streams, all while reducing sales costs.

As a 10-year veteran of the Xerox Corporation, Danita consistently achieved award winning sales performance before leaving Xerox to become an equity partner and national sales manager for Minneapolis-based Micro-Tech Hearing Instruments, where she increased annual revenues from $300,000 to $10 million in just seven years. Danita has authored articles in Upsize Magazine, The Hearing Review, the Star Tribune, and Business Journal, where she was recently honored as one of the its Top 25 Women to Watch. Danita also featured as a guest on “The Ruthless Entrepreneur television show” which will begin airing on Oxogen Network in 2010. Her new book, Sales Management in the No Excuse Zone, is due for release in 2010.
Danita can be contacted at or 612-267-3320

© Copyright 2009, Danita Bye Sales Growth Specialists, All Rights Reserved.

Sales Rules, Sales Hire, Sales Recruiting, Sales Critical Steps, Sales Interview, Sales Resume