By Lauren Borgeson
In hiring sales professionals, we often spend a great deal of time focused on the candidate’s skill set. How does their past experience fit with the needs of this role? Does the candidate possess the skills to do the job? As a small business owner, do they have the sales expertise to be able to help take my business to the next level?
While those are all important questions to ask, they are only a part of the questions you should be asking. Oftentimes, we overlook the most critical question: How will this hire will impact the culture of my business?
This happens especially in a small business setting where adding one more employee has a significant impact on your culture and can alter the dynamic of your office. Add to this that, in a sales hire, this person will directly interact with your customers and will represent your brand and reputation.
Assuming you make the right sales hire, your culture will continue to improve in a positive direction. But how will you know? And how do you ask the right questions to identify if this candidate will positively impact your culture?
Over the past few months at Infusionsoft, we’ve put increased investment in growing our sales department. While we’re focused on the skill sets, we’re equally looking for the right culture fit. In the process, I've Identified three things we do at Infusionsoft to make sure that we hire the right employees to positively contribute to our sales culture.
1. The application
Right off the bat, in the application process, we ask potential candidates to identify their connection to our purpose by answering the question, “How has small business impacted your life?” We’re are on a mission to help small businesses succeed, and hiring employees that are passionate about this mission is critical in any hire—especially a sales one.
Think about it this way, if you hire someone who has no connection to your business purpose, how will they be able to sell your product? Even if the candidate hasn’t owned a small business previously, or doesn’t have family members in the small business community, we want to get an idea of how they connect to small business passion.
How could you replicate this in your interview process? Think about how you can ask a question at the beginning of the process to identify how the potential candidates connect to your overall purpose. This will immediately help candidates to understand what you stand for and whether they consider themselves in alignment or not.
2. Ask why…a lot!
During hiring, I ask the question, “Why?”, almost to the point of exhaustion. Again, in any hire this is important, but especially when you are hiring a sales professional. You need to understand their motivation. Some why questions to ask:
- Why are you looking to make a change?
- Why our company?
- Why this role?
- Why do you connect to our product?
You get the idea. You’d be surprised at how many times I hear that sales professionals are looking to make a change from their current company because they feel out of alignment with the culture or the product they are selling. Without understanding the “why” behind the candidate’s reason for selecting the sales role in your company, you are at jeopardy for hiring someone who will not accurately represent your brand and positively contribute to your culture.
3. Understand their ambition
At Infusionsoft, we hire employees that have a growth mindset. This could mean growing and developing into a Sales Manager, or it could mean deepening the mastery of your craft by continuing to learn new things about the industry and sales methodologies. Either way, our culture is focused on growth because we want to constantly innovate and improve to provide the best product and service for our customers.
What is your culture centered around? Ask yourself this question, and devise interview questions to showcase a candidate’s alignment. One question that I love to ask is: “Talk to me about how you envision your career path over the next two years?” This helps to get an idea of how the candidate thinks about growth. How do they see themselves in the next few years? What do they expect to learn, grow, and develop in? For a small business, the culture may be focused on hard work, and grit; pushing to keep the business moving in a positive direction. Make sure to ask questions in efforts to understand how a candidate will perform in this type of environment and if this is in alignment with their ambition.
In any hire, it is critical to really learn about the candidate. Don’t stop solely at skill set. Understand more about motivators, ambitions for the future, and how the candidate connects to your business. Focusing on these components, in addition to skill set, will help to improve your ability to hire employees that connect to your purpose and will positively influence the culture of your company.
Since joining Infusionsoft in 2015, Lauren Borgeson has served as a Hiring Partner for Infusionsoft’s leaders as they search for the best talent to contribute to our mission of changing the world for small business. Lauren is responsible for hiring a variety of positions from entry level support roles to seasoned vice presidents. She does this all while contributing to the company’s talent acquisition strategies. When she isn’t helping to hire the newest Infusionites, Lauren enjoys trying new restaurants, running half-marathons, writing her blog (arcadiawife.com), and traveling the world with her husband.