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Sales Candidate Reference Checks – How to Make These Invaluable When Hiring

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Is sales candidate reference checking a waste of time? It depends how you do it. Learn how to turn this into an invaluable part of the candidate evaluation process in this Sales Management Minute episode.

If you talk with most sales leaders and HR executives, they will tell you that they get very little value out of reference checks. Due to the litigious nature of our society, few companies share much information about former employees. If you go into this process expecting a reference to tell you how awful a person is, you are going to be disappointed. Few will ever do that.

However, there is a way to turn this into an invaluable part of the candidate evaluation process. And, that’s with just one question! Here’s how to do it…

First, have the candidate provide you with three to five professional references that have had meaningful experiences with her. Not only could these references be superiors, but they could also be other executives or department heads in the company…even fellow sales colleagues.

Ask each reference one question.

Can you share with me the environment in which this salesperson would be the most successful?

This question is completely disarming and shows you have the candidate’s best interests in mind.

To explain why this question is so invaluable, let’s take a few steps back. When you determined that you wanted to bring a new salesperson onto the team, hopefully, you had a moment of pause. During that moment, you considered what causes salespeople to succeed as well as fail in the sales role. That information was used to document a role scope. With that tool in hand, the entire evaluation exercise became a compare and contrast of the candidate with the role scope.

Coming back to the one reference question, the responses provide you with another way to compare the candidate with the role scope. Given the responses received you may want to ask follow-up questions like “Why do you think that?” or “What makes you say that?”

Try it! You will be amazed by the information you receive.

See you next time on the Sales Management Minute.

Lee B. Salz is a leading sales management strategist specializing in helping companies build scalable, high-performance sales organizations through hiring the right salespeople, effectively onboarding them, and aligning their sales activities with business objectives through process, metrics and compensation. He is the Founder and CEO of Sales Architects, Business Expert Webinars and The Revenue Accelerator. Lee has authored several books including award-winning,  best-seller “Hire Right, Higher Profits.” He is a results-driven sales management consultant and a passionate, dynamic speaker . Lee can be reached at lsalz@SalesArchitects.net or 763.416.4321.