Finding the right candidates for any position is always a challenge. Having a successful methodology based on your previous successes is a great way to improve your chances of making a great hire.
Ove the years, I have encountered a lot of flawed hiring methods for sales people. One example is hiring who you think will be most loyal, or who will work for less money and do most of the job, etc. I have also encountered some really interesting prescreening approaches which make a lot of sense.
My approach has always been straightforward – interview, conduct behavioral or cognitive assessments, interview again with the team then make a decision based on collective input. I relied on the assessments to back up what I observed during the interview process. I focused mostly on background, length of employment, references and how well they met the criteria I wanted.
One of the latest early-stage indicators I learned about involves looking for sales candidates who had a higher-level sports background – college or semi-pro is typical. The ability to compete at this level requires a high level of determination, practice, tenacity, ability to fight through tough situations mentally, etc. These are all great characteristics for a sales or business development role and can be a good predictor of the type of character and behaviors you can expect to see in a formal assessment.