“Turn them down.”
Not something any sales leadership desperate for more sellers wants to hear.
Good salespeople are pushy, right?
Well. up to a point…
So the other night I enjoyed a couple of cheeky beers with a pal fresh from interviewing a string of salespeople.
He had empty seats in the office and the rest of the Board wondering aloud why they weren’t yet filled.
He recounted a couple of uncomfortable experiences from his past week.
One guy, a sector veteran apparently (I’m always wary of milkrounders), hit him with a type of urgency close at the end of his second interview;
I’ve been offered a job at [your competitor] so if you don’t get back to me by tomorrow night I’ll take their job
Sounds like he’s been googling ‘interview close’. And as with most such returned query results, not got the best answer.
My friend told me how much he didn’t like this. Which is about right. After all, do you really want your prospects to feel this wrong kind of pressure?
A classic time-limited close can propel if delivered with an empathetic grin. As a fait accompli, it’s a no-no in my book.
What’s worked for me when on the receiving end in this case, is to state;
Well, my advice is take that job then.
You’re clearly not fussed about who you work for and that’s not the kind of person we want.
It’s a shame as you’re a good candidate.
But we have a vigilant, professional recruitment process which will be done when it is done.
And as that’s not what you seem to want, then your future career lies elsewhere…
I’ve never had anyone stand their ground – or dig a deeper hole if you prefer – after that. They always backtrack.
The other scenario that vexed my recruiting friend was when one prospective employee detailed his remuneration demands. What do you do when they’re out of kilter with what you’re offering? I’ve had this a lot. Well, I tend to reply;
“the package is the package”
We’ve all heard examples of where a football team doing well goes into freefall after a new signing is revealed to be on double everyone else’s wages.
I tend to bounce of this approach to assess deeper motivations.
What bonus in cash terms do you see from that?
And find out how they calculate it. Most times, it’s just a number plucked out of thin air. If you get that far, then progress with;
What are you going to spend it on?
I had one company owner once who, although an appalling boss, liked to hire salespeople with huge mortgages, spouses with luxurious tastes, children at fee paying schools and expensive pastimes. It made them hungrier, he thought. I’m not so sure about that, but if they divulge anything concrete then you could be onto something.
My pal did ask about the ‘that’s none of your business’ response.
I know a guy that used to say something like ‘is that really anything to do with how I do my job?’ Which I like, although his tone was too aggressive for me. Yet the reality is you’re not after personal bank statements, more a rough idea into what makes them tick. Anything other than an engaged response and you’re onto argument territory and someone likely not fitting your bill.
I have run sessions for sales managers and senior execs on how to interview salespeople. Most people think they want a cheat-sheet list of clever questions. Whereas some of these can be useful – and always cause a giggle which aids remembering when passed on – what works better is knowing different lines of questioning, as opposed to raw questions to parrot themselves. The last time I did this, I ran through twenty.
Perhaps my biggest difficulty was getting across the context that you should never fill a space for the sake of it. No matter how much pressure you feel, if you sense the person’s not right, then never take a gamble.