How to Find Out if They Can Sell

No sales candidate is going to tell you that he doesn’t know how to sell, even when he doesn’t know how. That’s because he thinks he does know. So, it’s up to you to figure out if he really does.

I know that it sounds a bit corny to ask a sales candidate to sell you a pen or a coffee cup.  But think if it for a moment. If he can’t sell you something as simple as that, how will he ever sell your stuff?

You can avoid the potential corniness of this exercise by having a well-thought-out sales simulation that you put the candidate through. A well-thought-out scenario is one that has some substance to it, not just picking up an object off your desk and asking the candidate to sell it to you.

The scenario doesn’t need to be complicated, nor does it have to be around what you sell. It’s best if it’s something common that the candidate can get his mind around quickly and demonstrate that he understands the selling process. The following is a typical example.

Here’s what you tell the candidate: “You’re selling advertising specialty items, calendars, coffee cups, pens, etc. I’m the owner of a small flower shop. I get 60% of my business from corporate sales and 40% from drop-ins. Most of my business comes from a radius of 5 miles from the shop. I’m busy but I could be busier and have room to expand. I recently met you at a networking meeting and agreed to meet with you today. This is that meeting.”

In fairness, I typically give the candidate 10 minutes or so to collect his thoughts before I fire the gun. It works. Some candidates do very well, and some die a horrible death.

I don’t hire the dead ones.