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Insights and advice to help grow sales in your business

How to select top sales performers in less than 5 minutes

The team at SalesStar 08 Mar 2016


Phone screening – How to select top sales performers in less than 5 minutes

Phone interviews are a must before bringing in someone for a face-to-face interview – it is another way to cut down time spent on recruitment and if you have a robust screening process, you will be able to select top sales performers in a quicker time frame.

The phone calls should be no longer than five minutes, and this really is plenty of time to get the information you need to make a decision about moving forward to interview stage. If you have sales assessments in place for candidates, then the screening will be about establishing communication abilities and getting a better feeling of  their personality – which is still an important thing to get  right for your business and sales team.

Read more: How to correctly use the information on CVs to evaluate salespeople 


Prepare your call

Once you have gone through their CV in detail, you should have a clear picture on who they are, and an overview of their experience – and you will hopefully also have questions which relate to things mentioned (or perhaps not) in their resume. Have these on hand for the phone call, as this is time to get your answers so you can make a more informed decision around whether or not you want to bring them in for an interview.  

This is also a great time to get a feel for someone’s personality – do they sound nervous or confident; friendly or cold; enthusiastic or distracted? Remember, you need a salesperson who can communicate clearly with prospects and/or customers, so checking they come across well over the phone is important. 


Four key areas to listen for

Here are four other key areas you should be concentrating on:  

  1. How professional are they when they answer their phone? If they do not answer the phone, do they return your call in an acceptable time frame? 
  1. Do they recall the position they applied for and why did it appeal to them? Also, have they done any  homework on your company?  
  1. How well do they respond to questions? Are they listening and can you understand them i.e. do they come across well over the phone? 
  1. How assertive are they? Do they establish rapport with you?


Use a scoring matrix

It is also a good idea to set up a consistent system to measure performance in the phone interview. By using a scoring matrix, you can then ‘measure apples with apples’ across multiple candidates, and once you have completed phone screening you will then have some useful data for making decisions around who to invite for a face-to-face interview.

This is also helpful to keep you on track with making calculated hiring, based on the right criteria – not on gut feel.


Conduct your phone screening early

In keeping with the goal to hire ‘A-Players’, don’t forget that if they are actively seeking new employment then yours won’t be the only job they have applied for. So this means phone screening should be done as soon as possible (after you have confirmed they are suitable for the role – whether with a sales assessment, or a thorough look at their CV).

It’s best to have an organised plan in place around timings so that you can ensure every application is dealt with in an appropriate time-frame, reducing the risk of losing out on securing sales stars who are snapped up by someone else.


Keep it short

As a final note, don’t forget that phone screening should be kept to a maximum of five minutes. This is to ensure you keep them streamlined, and of a similar context – as well as not wasting your time on people that can’t be qualified in that amount of time.


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