Sell me this pen…without the ink…and broken. Sales managers hiring standards get tougher and tougher. No wonder other professions die one after another but the salesman is very much alive and there is a high demand for such specialists on the market. However, only the ones who are the most persistent with nerves of steel and inexhaustible optimism stay afloat.
What methods allow separating the weak and unfit for this difficult work? What surprises await candidates at the first meeting with a prospective employer?
CleverControl asked experts about the games that are played with the candidates.
The Executive Director of the marketing agency "APlan" Albert Stone immediately tells us that the sales manager is not like everyone else:
"The salesman is a creative profession that requires mental flexibility and innovative solutions. We know that we need to try to model complex negotiations or conduct hard-nosed customers so that your specialist is always ready to any turns in the dialogue with the interlocutor."
The HR team of the international center for Internet Commerce “Biz Silver” assures that when the salesman works as a "warm up" it's really very difficult.
"We have a very large staff of sales managers in different countries. They sell the company's service by phone. They have to work with cold calling, and being a “warm up” is hard - our product is complex. But because the selection of candidates in the company is treated with special care we are able to avoid an excessive turnover."
And what are these games that allow selecting the best of the best?
The first game: cannibalistic
"What should a salesman be able to do? Asking correct questions and find out the motivation," – says Jacqueline Morris, the Head of sales at Scout Sky. “What do we do? We organize a simple game of travelers and cannibals. We usually play in groups of 5-7 candidates who came to the assessment. I am an ogre; the guys are travelers who were stranded on a desert island where they meet me, the cannibal. Their task is to make sure I don’t eat them. The key to the victory is figuring out what is more important to me than eating the specific individual. Asking, begging, intimidating, lying about Zika virus and other things do not work. The point is in a series of questions to clarify my desires. For example, I love music, and the guys make up that they have a phonograph and 5 vinyl records that survived the shipwreck! So if I don't eat them, they will tell me how to use it and I will be happy. This is the right option."
The second game: "The good, the bad and the ugly"
"There are classic methods of training that continue to work and give results. You can come up with many creative ideas but they will not help in real life,” says Albert Stone. “We use a simple scheme of a "good – bad – doubting" customer where the salesmen need to quickly switch and adapt to the character and mood of the interlocutor. Usually, three people sit in front of the manager and simulate different behaviors; it allows us to train the reflexes and the ability to cope with the stress"
The third game: conditions change on the go
"Often during the interview with the candidate for the position of Sales Manager recruiters of Biz Silver use the method of Case Interviews and competencies interview,” tells one of the HR Managers at “Biz Silver”. “As a rule, 3 to 5 core competencies are estimated for the Sales Manager position. For each competency we develop a certain case: build the situation which will allow us to check exactly what we are interested in at the moment. We alternate cases and questions that validate special knowledge and skills with questions which assess the motivators and behaviors. Otherwise, the candidate will begin to compare the answers and try to adjust to the expected response."
But what about the standard "Sell me the pen"? Biz Silver manager continues:
"In our practice, we do not abandon the case "Sell me the pen". In fact, we first ask the candidate to sell the product or service that he or she was selling at the last place of work, and then a completely different unfamiliar service. Such roleplay will assess the creativity, psychological flexibility of the candidate, and the ability not to get lost in a difficult situation. We can also see how the candidate responds to this kind of tasks. Because we not only look for the knowledge of sales techniques (we can teach those) but, more importantly, we need to choose active, sociable, and self-confident employees. Such salesmen will easily find a common language with different clients, cope with the difficult working moments, and enjoy the work."
Game over: what's next?
The game is not everything. The applicant has to pass supplementary tests which could affect the decision of the employer:
"At the later stage of the selection process we ask the applicant to get to know our company and service closer and ask any questions,” continues one of the HR Managers at “Biz Silver”. “According to the obtained answers, we evaluate not only his or her interest (how close the candidate became acquainted with the service) but also the questions that he or she asked in the process. This shows us the general logic of thinking, business orientation of the candidate, and his or her general understanding of the market situation. Previous experience does not play any role here - what important are common logic and interest. Quite often for the position of Sales Manager they play a key role in the final decision."
Regardless of the game that the employer plays with you, the important thing is not “selling the pen”. It is in presenting yourself in the best light. In other words, it is in being able to profitably sell yourself.