Observation, thoughts, and information.

Pulling The Weeds During The Hiring Process


Hiring is one of the most difficult management decisions a growth stage business encounters.  We talk about hiring challenges here and here.  One of the most important hires for a growth stage company is the sales team.  This group of people represents the business and are the direct line of communication to perspective and current customers.

Vanessa Merit Nornberg, founder of Metal Mafia, shares a 10-part process that weeds out bad sales hires every step of the way.  We comment on a few below:

  1. Know who you’re looking for:  Strongly consider hiring those who have never done sales but consider it an intriguing opportunity.  They’re open-minded.
  2. Make your job post matter:  Being very honest with perspective employees is an effective, long-term business strategy.  Make clear what your expectations are, from the start.
  3. Test your applicants.
  4. Screen out applicants through a 10-minute phone interview:  Most of sales transactions aren’t done in person.  Make sure you’re comfortable how the perspective sales person sounds on the phone — after all, he/she will be speaking with your customers.
  5. Bring candidates in for a face-to-face interview with you:  A person’s body language tells a lot about how effective the candidate will be.  Does he/she have a strong handshake?  Is he/she on time to the meeting?  Does he/she have an enthusiastic walk?  All of these actions are important to note.
  6. Find out how the person thinks.
  7. Try a candidate out at the job.
  8. On the fence?  Get your team to weigh in:  A sales team typically is a very cohesive, collaborative team.  Does the candidate compliment other team members?  We don’t think the team should all be alike, but being able to work together is a-must.
  9. Train your new hire.
  10. Instill new behaviors:  We completely agree with Nornberg in that most startups need new people to focus on not just making deals but on listening to what customers say.  Understanding the needs of current and perspective customers is very valuable insight as a company scales.