• 4 Interview Tips for the Interviewer: How to Build the Strongest Bench

    Strongest benchPlaying the role of the interviewer is no simple task. While you might not be the one in the hot seat, the words that come out of your mouth can be just as important. There are interview techniques that some of the best recruiters and HR professionals utilize when looking to fill positions with the most qualified candidates.

    Encourage the candidate to think differently and creatively when they’re interviewing. For many candidates going through the job search process, interviews become monotonous. Interviewers need to go against the grain to truly get to know a candidate.

    The following techniques will help the interviewer understand the mind and thought process of the candidate, which will ultimately determine whether the candidate will be a good cultural fit and if they’ll help propel the company forward.

    1. Start by asking the candidate how they prepared for the interview.Not every job seeker takes the time to do research before an interview, whether it was about the interviewer, the company or recent company news. If they did research, ask a couple of questions about their findings. If they didn’t, move on to the next question. Don’t ask why they didn’t, the goal shouldn’t be to embarrass them.

    2. Ask how they prioritize their time.This is a great question for recent college graduates because the interviewer can reference how busy college life can be (social events, projects, group work, jobs, internships, class and social media) and then ask the candidate how they get it all done. People don’t magically become organized and detail-oriented; those are behaviours that are often started in college.

    3. Role play during the interview.If the position in question will be part of a team, ask the candidate why people would want him or her on their team. Using this interview technique will force the candidate to adapt to a new role and look through a different lens. Answers that reveal promise will likely have to do with their dependability, responsibility, negotiation skills, subject matter expertise, leadership abilities, etc.

    4. Ask how a reference will describe the candidate.Every resume lists “references available upon request,” yet most interviewers don’t discuss references until later in the process. Ask for more information about the reference and then ask the candidate to describe what the reference would say about them. Usually, references are listed because the job seeker respects the person, the reference has a credible reputation or there is a strong relationship between the two. This telling technique helps because the candidate is less likely to lie or inflate the reference’s opinion of the candidate.

    When interviewing job candidates, what are some of your go-to interview questions? Be sure to include the answers you look for when asking those questions.

     

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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  • How many accounts can each person handle?  

    The “Dunbar Number” from Professor Dunbar, the Cambridge Psychologist suggests that the average number of “relationships” per person is 150. He concluded this from looking at the average number of Christmas cards each person sends, this included friends, family business associates etc. (Google him for more details).

    I’m not that sociable!

    What sort of “relationship” does a sales person need? Depends…

    If it is a “transactional sale” i.e. order taking then no “relationship” is required, all you are required to do is get out of the way!

    If it is a long term “consultative”, “trusted adviser” or “counsel” relationship there is a limit to the number of “professionally intimate relationships” any one person can have.

    Your sales template and account management template will also tell you how many “touches” are required (with how many people at each account), as well as inform you of how many accounts can be sold, on boarded and managed by the sales team.

    Interestingly, in my own current business, which requires quite a high level of professional intimacy the number I came up with, after spending huge amounts of time, money and research with consultants and coaches was…42.

    A familiar number to anyone who is a fan of “The Hitch-hikers guide to the Galaxy”

    Coincidence?

     

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand runs Sandler Training in the Midlands based at the Innovation Centre in Longbridge.

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  • New Light through Old Windows: a new approach to selling…that works!

    Selling has been going on since the beginning of mankind. The challenge remains the same: how do we cost effectively and efficiently find people to buy from us and not from our competitors.

    Thus the “window” is unchanged, and to be frank it is now slightly grubby.

    The image most of us have of a sales person is someone who is pushy, does not listen, interrupts what you are doing, does not understand your business, tells you what they can do for you and so on.

    The literature does not help us either.  I put ‘Define Sales’ into Google and found this:

    “Selling focuses on the needs of the seller and the need to convert product to cash….To put it another way, it’s sales’ job to influence the customer to buy what the company has produced.”

    Whilst I can’t say I agree with this definition it does support the idea that a salesperson is selfishly motivated, potentially manipulative and only interested in money.  Furthermore, they talk a lot, mostly about themselves, or their products or services and why people should buy; they rarely listen.

    Understanding the reasons for the generally negative perception of sales is critical to understanding how to fix the problem – selling and buying has been going on for hundreds of years and both sides have long established behaviour patterns and expectations.  At Sandler we have found that these do not serve the best interests of either the buyer or the seller.  Thus the need to shine “new light” through the old window of sales; to adopt a different approach where the expectations of both sides are openly shared thus allowing a genuine exploration of whether or not the buyer has a need and the seller can best meet that need.

    STOP START
    Doing what sales people do Doing the opposite
    Selling features and benefits.  People don’t buy them. Establishing rapport and continue to build rapport and trust throughout the entire selling relationship, not just during the first five minutes
    Acting like a salesperson Behaving as an equal and being authentic
    Playing games and withholding information Adopting a direct, no-nonsense approach to selling that frames the sales meeting as a business meeting between equals, where the sales person facilitates an honest, non-manipulative exchange of information
    Relying on your presentation skills to seal the deal; you can devote a lot of time and energy to a sales meeting only to discover that the necessary interest level was never there Focusing on qualifying the prospect; do they have a compelling reason to buy which is personal to them?  Are they willing and able to spend the necessary money, time and resources to fix the problem? What is their decision making process and is it acceptable to you?
    Focusing on handling objections.  By doing so you perpetuate a system of “positive selling” in which the sales person pitches and the prospect assumes a negative role. Accepting that only the prospect can handle their own objections.  Your role is to facilitate their doing this for themselves, not trying to do it for them.

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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  • The 3 Biggest Mistakes When Hiring Sales Talent

    steve bWe consistently have clients coming to us for help with fixing their underperforming sales people. Often we can help but sometimes we have to advise that the person concerned is wrong for the role and there is little that can be done to fix the problem. Better, by far, to hire the right people in the first place.

    Over the years we’ve learned some pretty important lessons around interviewing sales people. Here are three common interview pitfalls you should really try to avoid.

    Mistake 1: Interviewing the CV.

    Fast forward to your next interview. It is five minutes before the candidate will be on the phone or in front of you. You say to yourself, who is this guy? You then frantically print out the resume and skim it. You then proceed to interview the CV. “Tell me about the job you had? What was your success there? Why did you leave? Blah, Blah, Blah…”

    I’m sure your process isn’t as bad as this, however, here’s the mistake: you need to know what you are looking for. Define your needs beyond the CV and the clichés. Start with understanding what the key job functions actually are and rank the importance of each one.

    Mistake 2: Placing emphasis on the wrong selling skills.

    You only have a certain amount of time with your candidates. Make sure you know which skills are most important for success. For example, we sometimes hear clients say that they ask a candidate to “do a presentation” during the interview. Having them do a presentation is not a bad idea, however, what’s your process for understanding the candidate’s ability to prospect or question and qualify what the client actually needs? In your world, is that more important than the presentation?

    In the past have you hired people that love to present and then spend their days and nights “chasing” and “following up?” What are the top 10 skills they need to execute to be successful? We often see this list vary however presentation skills are rarely in the top 5.

    Mistake 3: Assuming that because they can do something, they actually will.

    “Will Do” is the hardest thing to judge during an interview. Attitude and motivation can sometimes be faked long enough to get a candidate through an interview. Sales people can have talent but can lose their drive and motivation. Ask yourself the question, especially of sales people in the latter stages of their career – why have they not succeeded in past roles and are now applying for a new job? Sometimes there is a good reason but beware of people with careers that have stalled or are in decline.

    We recommend you use hiring assessments to measure core competencies around:

    • Ambition and drive
    • Takes action
    • Resists stall and objections
    • Accepts responsibility

    Without these assessments, you are relying on likability and gut feel. Your odds of finding an effective candidate will suffer.

    Steve Buiskool

    Steve Buiskool

    Steve Buiskool is Managing Director of Sandler Training in Cheltenham. He works with companies who wish to increase their return on the investment made in their sales team and with local business owners who need to improve their own business development skills. Prior to starting Sandler Cheltenham, Steve had a 25 year sales career including Sales Director positions with CapGemini and Capita. He also specialised in leading major deals in the IT, BPO and consulting markets. Tel: 01242 420750 Mobile: 0750 750 5996

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