Hiring power

One of the most critical yet underdeveloped success factors of an effective sales leader is the ability to hire great salespeople. Finding the right person for the job is not an exact science, but the following tips will improve your results.
1 Avoid "warm body" hiring
That is, avoid choosing the first person you interview that can both walk and talk. Slow down, don’t rush into hiring. Take your time to make sure that the person fits the job. Too often managers will hire someone based on too little information or because they are desperate to fill a position.
Before you schedule your first interview, clearly define the role of the sales position you are looking to fill. Different sales roles require different skill sets. Take the time to make a detailed list of the sales skills necessary for success. The list will eventually serve as both a role definer and a checklist for you to follow once the interview process gets into full swing.
2 Candidate-source!
One thing I have noticed is that the best sales leaders are always on the lookout for great salespeople. They don’t wait until they have a position to fill to hire a salient salesperson. Traditional methods of candidate-sourcing include using employee search firms, college or university recruitment, and both print and internet job boards. While traditional methods do provide results, employee-sourcing experts agree that the best way to find top candidates is through referrals and networking because referrals provide more information on the candidate’s prior work history and level of performance. Ask your best employees and business associates for their recommendations. The more that you candidate-source, the easier it will be for you to avoid "warm body" hiring because you will have a plethora of candidates and contacts from which to draw.
3 Don’t confuse experience with expertise
Just because a salesperson has worked in the office products industry for a long time doesn’t necessarily mean he or she can perform the sales role you are looking to fill. Be suspicious of the salesman that says he will bring his "book of business" with him to your company. First, will he truly be able to bring the accounts, and second, what kind of integrity does he have if he is willing to steal from his former employer? Consider this: If he would steal once from an employer, what would stop him from eventually stealing from you and your company? Do you want someone taking your customers to a competitor? Also watch out for "job jumpers", or people with a short length of employment at many previous companies. You may inadvertantly end up hiring someone else’s problems.
4 Check references and pre-screen candidates
Research has shown that an alarming percentage of applicants misrepresent their work history or have inaccuracies about their education on their resumé and job application, yet there are still companies engaging in hiring practices that do not include reference-checking. In today’s world it is difficult to get any meaningful information about a candidate’s capabilities from previous employers; however you can confirm whether or not the candidate’s work and education history is accurate. If you do find significant inaccuracies, you should probably take a pass on the person. 
Checking references may cost you a few minutes, but it will save you and your company dividends in the long run. Likewise, a simple phone call to a potential candidate prior to a formal face-to-face interview can save you time in the overall hiring process. A telephone pre-screen allows you to verify basic information and determine if the candidate meets the fundamental job requirements. Another advantage of pre-screening a candidate is that you will get a glimpse of that person’s verbal communication skills and telephone abilities.
5 Interview at least three times prior to making a decision
Most interviewers can tell within the first five to ten minutes whether they are likely to grant the candidate a second interview. So that’s why I recommend that you always schedule short, 15-minute first-round interviews to weed out the applicants that you know are not a good fit for your company. If you find that you are interviewing a quality candidate, then you may invite that person to stay longer or schedule another appointment for a more in-depth interview.
During the interview, put the candidate at ease. You don’t want to apply unnecessary pressure. Instead, you want the candidate to be comfortable and relaxed so you can get to know the person who could be representing your company. I have seen interviewers who use intimidation techniques so they can see how the candidate reacts under pressure. The first interview is not the time to play those games. Later on, during the second or third interview, you may want to put the candidate in a situation that will show their ability to handle pressure, but this is not advisable during the initial meeting.
Yes, you heard me right, you should interview the candidate at least three times before hiring. In addition, have other people from your organisation spend time with the candidate. Some companies even have the candidate go out with one of their current salespeople to job shadow, giving the candidate a much better perspective of the job.
6 Ask meaningful questions and describe the job
Expect that a highly qualified candidate has done some research on your company, but also expect that he or she will not know exactly what the job entails. An interview is a time for you and the candidate to exchange knowledge and decide not only whether the candidate fits into your company’s profile, but also whether the job fits with the candidate’s qualifications. A lot of new hires leave jobs because it wasn’t what they thought it was going to be. You can stop that mistake from happening. Give candidates a detailed description of the job role for which they are interviewing. There should be no doubt in the candidate’s mind about the job role and performance expectations.
Similarly, there should be no doubt in your mind as to the candidate’s qualifications. Therefore, ask meaningful questions. For example, you can and should ask the question, "What do you know about our company-. The candidate’s ability or inability to answer the question will tell you whether or not you should consider hiring the person in front of you. After all, you have spent time searching for this person, you have spent time reading his or her resumé and job application, and you have spent time envisioning him or her as a potential fit with your organisation. The candidate, in turn, should have invested some time in learning about your company.
Be sure only to ask questions that are allowed by law. For example, in the United States, Federal Law regulates the types of interview questions you can and cannot ask. The laws prohibit discrimination based on race, gender, age and religion. If the question is not job-related, it may be illegal.
7 Use behavioural questions
These are questions based on the theory that past performance is an indicator of future performance. In other words, if a salesperson was effective at getting first appointments with prospects in a previous job, then he or she will most likely be able to do the same thing with your company.
The trick, however, is to find out if the candidate was successful at prospecting in the past. If you ask any sales candidate "are you effective at prospecting-, they will most always say: "Why of course, I am a prospecting machine.".
Behavioural questions allow you to dig deeper. The idea is to ask questions that uncover the specific behaviours connected with the job skill.
Now is your chance to develop the very critical success factor of sales leaders: hiring effective salespeople! Even if you currently have no openings in your company, take a few minutes to clearly define the role of a sales professional and consider candidate-sourcing. Improving your hiring practices now will benefit your company’s bottom line.