Recognizing A Successful Sales Candidate

Our CEO Joe Flanagan likes to say that at Acquirent, we are in the “People Business.”

Not only are we selling our client’s products and services through human interaction, but we, on the recruiting side, are also using human interaction to find the right sales candidates. Recruiting is rewarding, but very challenging.

One of the greatest challenges is recognizing the common traits of successful sales candidates. That’s because most people, especially salespeople, are experts in selling themselves in interviews. So how can one determine a potential top performer from a low performer?

[Read our post on How to Nail A Job Interview for job-hunter tips]


1. Screen, Screen, and Screen some more!

At Acquirent we have a 22-step recruiting process. Yes, that sounds like a lot, but not all the steps are specifically for the successful sales candidate to go through. However, the more steps you implement, the more detailed information you can ascertain from a candidate. Those that go through these steps professionally and respect the process will understand the purpose behind them.

Those candidates that gripe that we have “too many steps” are telling me they are not a good fit with us. We want those who want to be here.

2. Make them tell you more.

Ask the candidate to elaborate on their interview answers. The more information they give you, the more informed you are about a candidate’s skill set and abilities.

In sales, success can be easy to determine given it’s a numbers game. What metrics were you measured by and what were do your numbers look like? How far above quota were you? How many calls did you make daily? But you’ll find that every candidate says they were a top performer.

That can’t be true, of course, so you can’t rely completely on numbers alone. You must ask more.

The more probing you do, the more likely the candidate will contradict themselves, giving you valuable information about possible red flags.

3. After the interview, assign additional tasks.

After an interview is complete, if the candidate seems like a good fit, give them follow-up steps. If they welcome the additional requests, this tells me they have genuine interest in obtaining the position. A few ideas for follow-up steps:

  • Ask them to follow up in a couple days to get feedback.
  • Ask them to review client material and get back to me with their thoughts.
  • Schedule follow up calls to determine the candidate’s interest level.

4. Look for that extra step.

The best candidates will go above and beyond and take the initiative to do things without being asked.

Successful candidates who interview and are not given specific time frames about next steps do not sit and wait. They make sure they stay on the radar of a recruiter by placing regular follow up emails and phone calls, without being overbearing.

As they say, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. On the recruiting side, it is my job to determine whether these past behaviors will equate to future successes.

On the candidate side, it is your job to demonstrate your successes along with failures. Be humble. Acknowledging areas where you require improvement can be just as influential to a recruiter or hiring manager in deciding to proceed with a job offer then the successes.

The most successful candidates, in my eyes, are the ones that can demonstrate both.

Happy Job Hunting!