Before you even think about sorting through the hundreds of resumes that you probably already have in your inbox, you must first take some time to prepare yourself before going into the battlefield. First and foremost you need to get together with your sales team and create an "ideal candidate" profile; deciding what would make a salesperson successful in your company. Just because someone was the #1 sales person at cruise line does not mean that they will be a top seller in your organization that sales computers. So, identify some key players in your team, see what qualities have made them successful, what qualities have hindered them, go through candidates that haven't worked out in the past and see why they didn't last. Once you have created the "ideal" candidate, you can begin the hunt for your next star. After all, you can't find what you need if you don't know what you are looking for.
Being able to identify and differentiate a good resume from a bad one is a key step in your search for the next superstar. A resume is the first indicator of many things such as communication, but also their attention to detail, written skills, presentation, how they sell themselves, how successful they have been in other positions and employment longevity along with many other things. Reviewing the resume carefully and knowing exactly what you are looking for in your next hire will allow you to only move forward with those that you truly feel will add value to you team. Although a resume is only a limited representation of a candidate, it is one of the most important ones too. So, if a resume looks like they only spent an hour on it; chances are they probably did.
THE PHONE SCREEN
This to me is one of the easiest parts of the process as far as deciding whether or not I will continue on to a face to face interview or not. When you think of a great sales person you think of someone you can click with, someone that's engaging, personable, likeable and a great communicator. If you feel like you have to drag answers out of them during the phone screening, if the conversation doesn't flow naturally, if they are not enthusiastic and spark your interest than most likely your clients that they will be selling too will see them the same way. At the end of the day people don't buy from a name brand they buy from the people they like and people they feel comfortable with. So if they can't sell themselves, you cannot expect them to successfully sell your products/services to anyone else.
This is where it can get tricky. A lot of people present well, have great personalities and might have relevant experience but might not be the best for your position. Don't be afraid to ask questions and really dig into their metrics; how they measured in comparison to others and really put them in the hot seat. The truth only has one face, so no matter how many different ways you ask the same question the answer should remain consistent. Ask questions that will that will expose synergies, strengths, specifics, situational questions, their drive, their competiveness, passion and accomplishments. But never settle for just a superficial answer; ask what they did to get there, how they accomplished it, what made them different, how they remain competitive, etc... It's a job interview and you are in control, so take control and keep asking until you feel you are satisfied with the answer. The interviewer should only talk 10% of the time; the rest should come from the candidate.
At the end of the day you can only uncover so much during the hiring process, but the more you can uncover and the more prepared you are to interview, the better off you will be and the more educated the hiring decisions you make will be. So take your time in creating an ideal candidate profile, review resumes very thoroughly, don't be afraid to ask uncomfortable questions, and always remain open minded on where your next superstar can come from. The identifying and hiring process is an important part of finding great sales people but what happens after you hire them? How are you keeping them satisfied, challenged, and motivated? Recruiting goes far and beyond just interviewing. Good luck and happy hunting.