How do you determine which candidates will perform for your agency based on a stack of paper? You can’t. High-quality hires are few and far between, and in the past few years, the process of attracting and retaining a new business person has become almost a competitive sport. To cull the pile of candidates, no part of your hiring process is more important than the interview.
Here's how to interview your next agency new business professional:
General Interviewing Tips:
- To get the best candidates, interview on an ongoing basis. Always accept resumes and talk to the candidates you can’t afford to miss out on. That way, you always have a steady stream of options. The alternative is interviewing only when you need to hire, which gives you access to a much smaller pool of candidates. As-needed interviewing leads to hiring the best of the bunch instead of hiring the best candidate for your position.
- Resumes are rife with misinformation and exaggerations. Use assessment tests to verify skills that have been self-reported. Only interview candidates who have already taken their assessment and demonstrated results in a range you deem acceptable. This saves time and helps you avoid getting attached to a candidate that doesn’t test well.
- If you aren't in sales, get some help when it's time hire a new business, sales, or business development person for your agency. Hire a sales trainer or reach out to someone you know in sales and ask if they can help craft the interview questions and assist in the vetting process.
- Be wary of being “wowed.” It’s common for hiring decisions to be made based on first impressions, gut instinct, or being so overly impressed by certain aspects of the candidate that they gloss over the other details. All of these are notoriously bad reasons to hire someone. Here are some examples of common pitfalls when hiring new people for agency business positions:
- People who communicate well often find themselves in sales and business development positions. This type of candidate often gives a strong interview and makes a great impression. Sometimes it is only after they’ve been hired that the agency discovers they have misrepresented their experience or abilities. Don’t skip steps because you find a candidate you like.
- Beware the “magic Rolodex.” Agencies are always looking for that special individual with limitless contacts who can get them new business. But if they can’t perform, their connections are meaningless. And someone who can perform will compensate for any lack of connections. So be cautious about putting too much weight on who your candidate supposedly knows.
Interviewing Questions for Your Next New Business Hire
What are some good questions to ask your agency’s next salesperson or business development person during the interview process? For your interview to be effective, make sure that you have identified the skills you are looking for, and develop a questioning strategy around those areas. These questions (which are modified from the Sandler Training we use) are broken down by some of the skill areas that are most critical for success in a sales role.
Attention to Detail, Planning and Organization:
How do you go about getting the information you need to get started on a new project or to make important decisions?
How do you prioritize your projects and work responsibilities during the week?
Describe a project where you had to gather and analyze details before moving forward. How did you determine which facts and information were most important? How were you able to stay on track?
Describe the last time you prepared a sales call plan or agenda and what it included. What format did you use? How often do you write down your sales call agenda? Do you pre-plan all of your sales calls? How do you communicate your agenda to the prospect?
How did you prepare for this interview?
When prospecting, what is the greatest number of “no’s” you ever pushed through to eventually get to a “yes”? Tell me about that. How many “no’s” do you typically go through with a prospect before reaching a “yes”?
How do you determine which prospects are a waste of time, and which are worth going back to repeatedly, throughout the multiple rejections? How do you remain positive despite the high rates of rejection?
If two prospects give you a “yes,” one via cold calling and one in person, do they both carry the same weight and significance, or do you think there is a difference?
What would make you decide that a certain method or channel is not worth your time for prospecting?
Tell me about the last time you had to make a quick decision to make something happen – something that is not normally your responsibility, but in this instance you had to jump in. Why did you have to make a quick decision? How did your decision to jump in affect others? Did you step on any toes in the process? Looking back, did you make the right decision? Would you do anything differently?
Follow these tips and others in this series to improve the outcome of your agency new business person hiring. In my next post, I will tackle how to onboard a new business person for your agency. If you haven’t already subscribed to the Duval Partnership Blog, you can do so here.
Make better, smarter hiring choices:
Have you ever learned the hard way about how not to interview an agency new business person? Have another question you like to use in the interview process? Continue the discussion in the comments.
Read more about how to find your agency's next new biz pro:
- 3 Common Sales Hiring Mistakes Made by Creative Agencies
- Before You Hire an Agency New Business Person: Needs Assessment
- How to Compensate Your Agency New Business Person
Image credit: © bowie15 / 123RF Stock Photo; modified by resizing and text overlay.
This was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse by Mark Duval on June 9, 2016.