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Anthony Iannarino is an international speaker, bestselling author, sales leader, and entrepreneur. He posts daily sales tips and insights to The Sales Blog.

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How I Decide Who To Interview for Sales Roles

stack of interview candidates

Web-based advertising platforms provide you applicants by allowing them to find jobs they’d be interested in, and they make it easy for a candidate to send you their resume by simply clicking a link. This tends to increase the number of candidates that reply to your posted position while simultaneously reducing the overall quality; many people without the right skills will apply based only on the advertised compensation.

I start with three segments of candidates.

A-List Candidates

If a candidate has industry-related experience and a strong sales history, they make the A-List. Understanding the industry is an indication that they know how things work, that they have experience in having business discussions around the industry, and that they have contacts that may allow speed to results (even though this isn’t always true).

B-List Candidates

If a candidate doesn’t have the requisite industry experience, but has the sales history, they make it into the second stack. Sales skills are transferable, especially if the sales person has been trained, coached, and developed by their prior organizations.

If you have the ability to teach and train a salesperson in your industry, there are excellent candidates that possess the mindset and the skill set necessary to succeed. It is a mistake not to consider candidates from this group. It’s a bigger mistake to trade industry experience for the attributes that allow someone to succeed, but that is the most common mistake people make when hiring. What feels like a shortcut is often a dead end.

C- List Candidates

This is the stack of resumes from people who lack industry experience and also have no experience in sales.

Unless you are prepared to train salespeople from scratch, and unless you have the training and development resources to train people with absolutely no experience, this list isn’t the right place to hire from. It is a mistake, and it is wrong to hire salespeople with no experience if you cannot train, coach, and develop them. It is unfair to them, and it is why so many young people sour on sales.

The 20-Minute Meet and Greet

I never interview a candidate from any list without first doing a 20-minute phone interview. There is no reason to commit to spending an hour with someone who is clearly wrong for you and your company. Your time is best reserved for people who appear to be a good fit.

It helps to consider the best candidates from your A-List and your B-List for these 20-minute interviews. You don’t want to overlook a potential future star because they don’t have industry experience. You also don’t want to hire someone who is a project if you have an A-List candidate available.

Hiring isn’t easy, and it is better to see more people than fewer. This strategy allows you to look at more candidates, and build a pool of those who are likely the best fit.

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