I must admit there have been many times I’ve been impressed with how some sales executives present themselves on paper. But I must remind myself that many of those impressive resumes have been written by a hired professional, which is certainly worth giving them a point for effort. However, it will not tell you if they can sell and the underperforming candidates certainly won’t tell you if they can’t sell either. The goal of the underperformer is to get the job to keep a paycheck coming in. Your goal is to eliminate these folks from ever getting close to being hire by your company. If you’re reading this article, you probably already know what a drag on your progress hiring an underperformer can be!
The good news is there’s always good information to glean from resumes to flush out the bottom 80% pool of candidates. The first key is to make sure you stick only to the facts on the resume and that you can validate it. Here are 3 factual pieces that can help your initial screening process and be validated:
First, a few things to discount… job descriptions, hobbies, words like developed, created, designed, introduced, engineered and analyzed. These descriptors are fluff… don’t be distracted by them.
Many times you see stated objectives like sales management, but it’s submitted for a sales executive role. These candidates are essentially saying they are looking for whatever they can find and did not take the time to customize their resume to fit the potential role. Successful people know what they are looking for and don’t waste their time on opportunities that are not a fit. If you decide to let someone in the process that desires another role, you risk of problems down the road can go up dramatically, if not addressed properly, up front.
As a guy who has interviewed thousands of sales candidates and hired hundreds, there is one resume attribute that does not lie… it’s consistent success! Inconsistent accomplishments likely point to success anomalies. However, when you do see they’ve had consistent success across several companies, you have a high probability of an “A” player (top 20%). “A” players are successful everywhere they go. They also are very proud of their accomplishments which are easy to spot on their resumes. Here’s a rule I go by: If there are no specific and consistent accomplishments, they probably don’t have any, therefore no interview. Yes, even when they are in your industry and may require little training. You can’t train someone to be the best, it’s a character trait.
Staying Power vs. Ramp Up:
The larger the deal sizes that your enterprise executives are going after, the longer the sales cycle will be. Typically, 6 – 9 months is the average length of a larger deal. You should plan on at least 2 sales cycles for a newly hired sales exec to ramp up to full production. That means they should have a history of at least 4-5 sales cycles to be considered successful in a previous enterprise selling role. When I ask how long their typical sales cycle is and compare it to their longevity at a company, many times it’s clear they leave before they can positively impact the companies they have worked for. As an example, if someone says they had a 9-month sales cycle, but they left the company in less than 2 years…this is problematic. Most likely they left before they were asked to leave, or they couldn’t figure out a way to be successful, leaving to find another company to support their potentially bad selling habits. When you see resumes that have great success but no stability, hirer beware! It most likely means they were handed a nice deal or two and then left after they had to start working their territory to be successful… it happens all the time.
These 3-resume screening techniques will eliminate a high percentage of underperformers who are trying to get in your resume pool, save you a lot of time and it is a process that can be delegated. Stay shrewd my friends. My true north for hiring is “don’t settle, select the best.” This reasoning originates from experiencing bad hires. I’ve seen how much management time it takes, how in the end they underproduce, while losing deals to the competition to name a few. No matter how great a manager / leader you are, you cannot fix an underperformer. Getting the noise out of your pool of potential candidates begins with knowing what you are looking for on a resume before you invest any of your precious time interviewing them. Keep your standards high and don’t settle! Stay thirsty for the best and you will be rewarded!
To find out more about the six hidden weaknesses along with other critical considerations go here.
More thoughts on hiring next week!