In the US alone, the paints and coatings industry produced approximately $31 billion in revenue in the past 12 months. Driving business-customer relationships, and thus playing a crucial role in the industry, are the sales professionals.
For the most part, hiring a new salespeople in any industry is part research, part guesswork; you can never be completely sure if that new individual on your team is the right choice.
For the Paints and Coatings industry, it is often times even more challenging to make a good match, since there are often times so many mandatory qualifications that are truly essential to make a good hire.
With that said, we’ve listed a few tips to make recruiting a talented paints and coatings salesperson easier, and to increase your odds for success:
1. Fine Tune the Job Description
The key to finding the right person for the job is starting off by having a solid understanding of what you need to begin with. Taking a good look at your existing team, and getting a feel for their strengths and shortcomings will give you valuable insight into what you need to find for your next hire.
If your current organizations’ strengths are high activity, you may want to find someone that is strong on strategy. However, if your overall teams biggest challenge is low activity levels, you will want to look for someone that can raise the bar in terms of momentum. If you already have someone that has extremely strong product knowledge, than you can get away with potentially training a recent chemical engineer with a strong aptitude towards sales. If you currently have a team of distributors and with no designated manager, looking for a tenured sales manager that will be comfortable holding them accountable and pushing them to higher levels of production can be hugely profitable.
By taking a good look at your existing squads strengths and weaknesses, and really looking at what you need, you will be able to fine tune a job description and determine what you truly need your next hire to have.
When crafting job descriptions, it is smart to set up two lists…mandatory requirements, and ideal but not critical requirements. There is a big difference between mandatory lists, and dream lists. Be sure to clearly understand the difference between the two, at the onset of your search.
This will help you considerably reduce the time when reviewing applications. Scan each application to check if they fulfill your minimum requirements—such as an academic background in sales and a 2-year experience in the paints and coatings industry—and filter out the ones that don’t make the cut.
Go back to the short-listed pile, and then go through all the contents of each application.
2. Integrate consistency in core questions
Always prepare a list of standard questions. Smart hiring managers in every industry, especially sales, are wise to develop a conversational style of interviewing to better understand candidates aptitude towards the product or service they are being asked to sell.
The goal should be to mix spontaneity with assuredness. Make sure to ask each potential sales candidate the same basic questions, and then branch out mid-interview when the need arises. Behavior based interview questions are ideal when interviewing sales candidates. ‘Show me rather than tell me’ your sales skills. Having them sell you something will give you a much better idea of their sales skills. In addition to looking at their prior successes, inquiring about their history of hitting their quotas, how they handled difficult scenarios with customers, etc., nothing compares to actually having them pitch a product or service to you. This will give you the best indication of how well they can research and sell a product. Give candidates an assignment ahead of your appointment and then see how well they do.
Mirroring what they will be doing in the actual job is the smartest way to interview someone.
If your sales cycle is a lengthy one that involves multiple presentations to the client, have your interview process reflect that. If it involves a complex sale that requires powerpoint presentations and complicated financial calculations, have your candidates do that as part of your interview process. On the other hand, if your product or services is more of a one- stop close, set up a screening interview where you can give your candidates the required information, enough time to reasonably prepare themselves, and then allow them the opportunity to sell you.
Setting up an interview that mirrors what they will actually be doing in the job provides you the best opportunity to evaluate a candidates capabilities and abilities to do the job.
3. Size them up based on overall demeanor
You’re hiring a salesperson, whose core responsibility is ultimately representing your company and products and services to the targeted customer base. This person will be personifying your company, and it is essential that they send the right message.
In addition to fulfilling all basic job requirements, a proficient sales professional should project an air of professionalism and integrity. Confident but not arrogant.
Studies repeatedly show that the number one factor, with all other things being equal, that significantly puts one sales person above others, is the perceived trait of honesty. Keeping that in mind, and listening to your gut, sensing how honest your candidate appears, will go a long ways to determining how successful they will be in their new role and will help you stack the deck in your favor, for a successful hire.
More than in any other field, to be successful as a sales person, a very specific set of characteristics and personality traits must be in place. Imposters may be able to fake it short term, but for long term success, you want to hire people that have the natural intrinsic motivators that drive them to be successful in sales.
4. Test their sales skills
5. See them in action
Never finalize a candidate, no matter how awesome they’re on paper and during conversation, until you’ve seen them in action at the job they’ll be doing—selling.
Thanks to 2 the work of human behaviorists, we now have the ability to test intrinsic motivators through some amazing predictive indicators. We recommend Predictive Group which has a terrific track record of being able to test a candidates inherent motivators, those innate traits that drive people to push beyond their normal limits, that make them get out of bed in the mornings. We all have different built-in motivators and being able to test for what you want someone to be motivated by, and conversely weed out those inhibitors that may cause someone to shy away from a task that is an integral component of doing their job….say a candidate that was applying for a job as a recruiter that tested high in terms of cold calling reluctance….is invaluable information.
Observe them as they deal with the same level of hesitation as your customers would show during a sales process. Conduct behavioral based interviews, creating scenarios that they will likely encounter in their role within your company, and evaluate how they do. See how they react within your company culture. Every company has its own environment and people either thrive or rebel in different environments, so make a point to determine during the interview process …and before…what type of environment you offer, and what type of candidates will do best within the work space you are offering.
Dedicate some time and effort to replicating the job during the interview process, to see your candidate in action as opposed to simply having to take their word to how terrific they are, and you will dramatically increase your chances of a successful hire..
Since 1999, our team of experienced paints and coatings recruiters at International Search Consultant (ISC ) have been delivering high performing sales professionals within the paints, polymers and coatings industry to our clients on a nationwide basis
Contact ISC today to begin a good candidate flow of quota busting sales pros with paints and coatings sales experience, we would love to hear from you!