Many managers spend more time researching the purchase of office equipment than on hiring their representatives. New-home sales management expert Bob Schultz offers 10 steps to ensuring you hire only the best of the best.
The two most important things any builder or senior manager can be doing on any given day are to increase revenue and decrease costs without sacrificing quality. Recruiting, hiring, training, and coaching a world-class sales team is a giant step in the right direction to increasing profitable revenue.
In order to accomplish this, critical focus and effort must be placed on the recruiting process. It’s amazing that many managers will spend more time researching the purchase of a computer or other piece of office equipment than on hiring the salespeople who will represent them on a day-to-day basis.
All too often, managers will hire “experienced” people, many times wooing them from other builders. To understand how costly this can be, it’s necessary to understand the meaning of the word “experience.” Experience can be defined as “events lived through” or “knowledge or skills gained over time.” But, are those skills and knowledge at the level required to produce sales in today’s challenged marketplace? Take, for example, someone who has played golf for 10 or more years without the benefit of serious coaching. Most likely, that person’s skills leave something to be desired, yet he or she is quite experienced in the game of golf.
Like the TV show “Survivor,” the right recruiting process will eliminate people along the way until only the most outstanding candidates remain. Here are 10 steps to ensuring you hire only the best of the best:
Step 1: Identify the need
Before you begin recruiting, you must establish the positions you’re looking to fill and identify the community in which new staff will work. Then, develop a targeted compensation model and ideal target behavioral style for each position.
Step 2: Find the candidates
It’s not necessarily important that candidates have experience, but some successful background in selling other products or services is certainly helpful. Ads should run in the classified section of a local newspaper, and, if budget permits, a display ad should run in another section of the paper. In addition, consider posting ads on websites catering to those seeking employment.
Step 3: Start screening with the resume
If prospective employees can’t sell themselves, how can they represent your business? Inspect their resume for typos, grammatical or spelling errors, and sloppiness. If the resume can’t pass this critical first step, then vote them off the island.
Step 4: Send a pre-interview package
Send the remaining applicants a pre-interview package. It should contain a personalized cover letter and an application for employment. To expedite the process, consider posting this pre-interview package on your website to be downloaded by applicants with a password.
If you find the responses to these questions satisfactory, then include the applicant in the next challenge: the interview. Rather than a single interview, the procedure should be a series of steps; each one is a part of the screening process.
Step 5: Conduct a telephone interview
Set up phone interviews via email. This acts as another important test. If applicants don’t check their email, they probably won’t check it when customers send them an email.
Conduct the first telephone interview using a script. Some important questions at this stage include: “What are your earning goals for this year?” and “Are you a non-smoker?” The energy in the candidate’s voice during the phone interview is a strong indication of whether or not you want to interview them further. If they can speak eloquently and seem to be intelligent, set an appointment for a face-to-face interview.
Step 6: First face-to-face interview
Look out for the candidates who arrive on time and are dressed professionally. Also, be cognizant of the interviewees who are consistent in their answers from the phone interview to the face-to-face meeting. Finally, assess how comfortable the candidates are with being video/secret-shopper shopped.
Step 7: Check references and behavioral style
Before you proceed further, obtain permission from the remaining candidates to assess their behavioral styles. Two excellent personality assessment tests are the Management for Success (MFS) Style Analysis Response Form (sales version) and the Personal Interests, Attitudes, and Values (PIAV) Response Form from Target Training International, which candidates can complete online. Review both of these reports to determine if the candidates are close to your targeted profile.
At this stage, you should also conduct a complete reference check. If the references check out satisfactorily and the behavioral reports are in sync with your targeted profile, then call the candidate for a second face-to-face interview.
Step 8: Second face-to-face interview
This time, add an additional representative from your company so you can get another perspective. It’s also important at this point to look for a PHD attitude — professional, hungry, and driven. Managers are looking for that extra commitment from a person to ensure that they will be happy to stay late and are willing to embrace full-time weekend work when necessary. If applicants pass the second interview satisfactorily, then invite them to the all-important group interview.
Step 9: The group interview
Most managers would be satisfied to hire people who have been through the first eight steps of the recruiting process. However, some people are very good at behaving well in one-on-one interviews, and a resume is really just a balance sheet that lists all assets and no liabilities. The group interview provides a chance to probe for the liabilities and see how potential candidates interact with others.
During the group interview, sit back and watch the candidates in action. Compare notes with the other observers from your company and choose your superstars. Role playing should be an integral part of the recruiting process, as it can help determine if the candidates are going to be coachable.
Step 10: Final interview and job offer
Schedule an appointment to meet for a final face-to-face interview with the candidates selected from the group interview. Use this interview to go over anything that may have concerned you during the group interview. If you are satisfied, present the job offer and start date.
Bob Schultz is president and CEO of Bob Schultz & The New Home Sales Specialists, a full-service management consulting and sales company based in Boca Raton, Fla. Schultz is the author of two best-selling books, The Official Handbook for New Home Salespeople and Smart Selling Techniques, and was named a Legend of Residential Marketing by NAHB in 2010. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . For information, visit www.newhomespecialist.com  or call 561.368-1151.