Efficiency at scale: How to hire salespeople with better assessments

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6 mins, 21 secs read time

Innovative companies agree that building a winning sales team is an important element in creating any successful business. But when building any team, hiring the right people can make or break your company’s growth.

That’s why a structured hiring process is essential. Here are just a few benefits of adopting a structured hiring process when thinking about how to hire salespeople:

  • Increased quality of hires: When we take a structured approach, we find candidates who are the best match. They’ve got the skills and experience that complement and uplevel the team. That means we’re bringing on people who are more likely to succeed in their roles and help our company get to the next level.

  • Reduced hiring bias: We all have biases, even if we don’t realize it. But when we use a structured hiring process, we focus on the facts and not our gut feelings. That means we’re making data-driven decisions that are fair and open to everyone. And when we do that, our sales team becomes even more diverse, bringing in fresh perspectives that help us make more innovative business decisions.

When we use a structured process, we give candidates a roadmap. They know what to expect every step of the way and they get feedback that helps them grow. That makes us look good as an employer and attracts the best of the best to join our team.

We find that a structured hiring process ensures that we hire quality talent who are ready to make an impact quickly, which can be the difference between hitting our number or smashing it.– Theresa O’Donovan, Sales Leader and Hiring Manager at Greenhouse

Defining the ideal sales candidate

Greenhouse Recruiting allows for simple collaboration between hiring managers and recruiters to ensure they align with the ideal profile. It’s at that point where the two roles begin to outline an interview plan that empowers both teams to feel confident in their hiring decision.

As a sales recruiter working with a sales stakeholder in the hiring process, it’s important to offer valuable insights and suggestions to enhance the skills and ideal candidate you’re looking for. By providing straightforward guidance and being a reliable partner, you can streamline the process and achieve better results when hiring salespeople for a growing business.

Top talent wants to work for innovative companies who value the team’s time and a structured process – Theresa O’Donovan, Sales Leader and Hiring Manager at Greenhouse

O’Donovan believes that the relationship between a recruiter and a sales leader is one of the most important within a revenue function. “The ability to grow our team with top talent efficiently is vital to our success,” said Theresa. “My most successful relationships with recruiting teams have been ones where the recruiting team leads with data, aligns consistently (which can be challenging in a fast-moving sales team) and leans in on which skills are most critical for a role.”

Pro tip: Recruiters can open a job kickoff with key metrics to share on past searches for sales team members to ensure you’re consistently optimizing and refining the sales process. We’re continually leveraging data and aligning with what hiring managers define as the ideal candidate profile. Here are some tips for recruiters to get a strong start on the search process:

  • Leverage your expertise and, wherever possible, share historic search insights to give hiring managers something to react to during the kickoff meeting.

  • Start by defining success. Encourage your hiring manager to start by defining what a successful hire will accomplish in their first year on the job and work backward from there to lock in your hiring criteria.

  • Leverage existing career ladders for the team. How can attributes map back to these for consistency, effective onboarding and performance management?

  • Attributes should not overlap with each other, but together create a complete picture of the ideal candidate, with no more than 20 attributes, ideally.

Building an effective interview pipeline

Knowing how to hire salespeople can be a challenge, but it all starts with building an effective interview pipeline that will ensure asking the right questions at the right time. “Every moment spent interviewing means time spent away from growing the business in other ways,” said Theresa. “That’s why structured hiring provides us with the clearest and most efficient process.” As Theresa explains, when everyone is on the same page on every aspect, from the role to the skillset, both hiring manager and recruiter understand their own part in the interview process.

Screen for the basics first. Knock out the foundational things (such as qualifications) in a short phone screen. No need to invest time in an in-depth interview when candidates don’t meet the basic requirements. Your interview process might look like this:

  • Recruiter screen: The recruiter ensures that the candidate meets the basic requirements of the role.

  • Hiring manager screen: The hiring manager evaluates cultural addition, communication style and alignment with the role’s goals.

  • Collaboration interview: Focuses on teamwork and collaboration skills.

  • Operational interview: Assesses operational understanding and ability to execute sales strategies.

  • Executive presentation: Candidates showcase their skills and demonstrate their suitability for the role.

Through strong partnership, our interview plan for sales at Greenhouse has evolved to meet our needs. For example, in place of the traditional mock demo as part of the sales interview process, we’ve shifted to a presentation format to boost the level of challenge to be commensurate with the role’s level and to increase engagement.

These ideas drove the shift:

  • A candidate’s potential lack of knowledge of the software tool could result in an inaccurate presentation.

  • Hiring managers noted that this sometimes diverted attention from evaluating a candidate’s fundamental sales or presentation skills, which are more critical for success.

  • In a candidate’s market, concerns about the time-intensive nature of this task, combined with placing candidates in a situation with limited knowledge, can create unrealistic expectations about their performance and deter candidates from proceeding in the process.

Creating a sales assessment

With the end goal in sight and clear attributes outlined, the last step before starting the interview process for a new sales team member will be to craft an assessment that allows candidates to showcase their skills:

  • Define a clear objective

  • Develop clear and measurable criteria aligned with the job requirements

  • Choose the appropriate assessment method

A key element of a strong sales assessment is evaluating a candidate’s communication skills in a simulated sales presentation. This allows sales leaders to assess their ability to connect with future prospects and customers. Through a structured approach to this critical step in the hiring process, sales team members can look for clarity in the candidate’s message, persuasiveness in their delivery and the ability to tailor their approach to an audience’s specific needs.

Following the presentation, the hiring manager on the sales team can provide constructive feedback, which offers a valuable opportunity for the sales team to highlight a candidate’s strengths and areas for improvement. This allows them to showcase their capacity to learn and adapt to that feedback. This simulated environment also reveals the candidate’s confidence level, body language and overall professionalism in a sales setting – all crucial aspects for success in the role.

By focusing on building a consistent, efficient structured and candidate-centric hiring process for your sales team, you’ll be sure to attract top talent. And when your recruiting and sales teams are aligned on how to hire salespeople, your business will begin to flourish.

Looking for more information on how to hire salespeople? Learn more.

Caroline Angell

Caroline Angell

(she/her) is a Senior Talent Acquisition Manager at Greenhouse, leveraging her expertise to build high-performing teams since 2021. Beyond her passion for talent acquisition, Caroline enjoys exploring the outdoors, diving into a good book, and is a devoted pet parent.

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