Hiring Benchmarks What are your milestones for landing the right employees?

A midsize advertising and marketing firm was looking to expand. It truly needed an account executive to go out and call on organizations in the area to try to develop business for the firm.

Denise was in charge of interviewing for the new account executive. She sought someone with at least two years of sales experience within the industry, good communication skills and a college degree.

So, let’s break this down:

• Sales experience in the industry. Why? Are you the same as everyone else? Do you want someone to sell what he or she sold before, the same way they would sell your service? Are you sure?

• Good communication skills? Who’s going to say they don’t have good communication skills?

• A college degree. There are certainly pluses to having a degree—I have one myself—but I don’t think that is the reason I or most others are successful. I truly believe it’s the fire in their belly.

Here are other things to look at, in benchmarking a candidate:

• What level of the organization does your business development person need to be talking to? Is it a CEO? If so, has this candidate successfully called on that person before and consistently gotten to him or her?

• What is the cost of your product or service? If the average cost is $10,000, and this candidate has been very successful with $500, but never sold anything much more than that, this could be an issue.

• Where is your product or service when it comes to pricing competition? Are you more expensive, about the same or the price leader? These are distinctions that need to be addressed.

• How long is your selling cycle? Is it one or two calls? Or is it intricate, long and has many layers of decision-makers?

If you can match up these things closely with a candidate, then that person is worth looking at seriously. There are other criteria, but first address what you really need and don’t worry about the “experience” she has. If the person’s so good, why is she leaving?

Most organizations don’t take the time or energy to do this step well.

If someone tells you he’s good, or if her résumé says she has experience in your industry, that’s not enough. You need to first identify the qualities that will make this candidate successful for your company, not just any organization.

For a breakdown of the benchmarks and how to identify them, email greta@schulzbusiness.com. ♦

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is the best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com.

Greta Schulz
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