We’re just weeks away from Election Day in the United States, so that means many candidates are in overdrive making promises they won’t keep. Let me buck that trend by using this space to fulfill a promise I made to you in August. I wrote this in my RetailNOW 2018 recap blog post:
A high-performing reseller owner shared with me the core reason his 2018 has been strong: hiring a sales assistant. The owner is historically his company’s top sales person, but his facetime with prospects and customers was limited by administrative duties. So he hired an admin who has high attention to detail to complete paperwork plus high initiative to email clients to help generate new sales. This has been such a boon to the business that the owner is in the process of hiring an admin for his highest performing full-time sales rep as well. Related side note: I’m planning to develop a pre-employment aid – it will include a hiring process, assessment tools, and suggested questions – to help VARs who want to hire admins to boost their sales. I already have pre-employment job aids for sales and techs; reach out to me if you’d like to see those.
My fellow Americans (and my Canadian friends and the two VARs from Guam who faithfully read my blog) … I have kept my promise! I recently finalized that pre-employment job aid and emailed it to the interested VAR and ISV executives who reached out to me after reading my RetailNOW post. If you would like your own copy of the 25-page document titled “Sales Assistant Pre-Employment Questions and Process,” let me know and I’ll zip one your way.
You might be thinking, “Isn’t 25 pages overkill for a sales assistant?” My response to that is a resounding “no” for a few reasons. First, the job aid leaves room for you to take thorough notes during your interviews, so a big chunk of the document is white space. Second, the job aid offers both assessment tools and questions, so it can serve as the one document you’ll need during the interview process. The final reason the document is long is because it provides 118 questions for you to choose from. Of course I don’t recommend you ask all 118; the job aid is designed to be a tool that allows you to pick-and-choose what best fits your situation and the specific candidate.
Here are 10 key questions from the job aid:
- How do you organize yourself for day-to-day activities?
- How much time do you spend on the telephone in your job and how much time to you spend working on emails?
- What kind of roadblocks do you expect from clerical staff? How do you handle them?
- How often do you prepare sales reports? How detailed are they?
- Tell me about a time you dealt with an angry or frustrated customer.
- Give me an example of a time when you had to do the hard thing or have a difficult conversation.
- Tell me about a problem you’ve had with someone you encountered on a regular basis. How did you solve it?
- What’s the last thing on which you and your boss disagreed? How did you settle it?
- Tell me about a time you failed at something and what you learned as a result of that experience.
- What do you consider the single most important idea you contributed or your single most noteworthy accomplishment in your present job?
Those first five questions shouldn’t surprise you. They focus on the job itself and dig into the candidate’s sales-related experience. But you might be wondering what questions 6 through 10 have to do with being a sales assistant. Why should you care if your sales admin has experience with difficult conversations? Or how they respond to failure? Two words: Bench Strength.
Questions that dig into the candidate’s character and initiative will help improve your org’s bench strength, which is as important an outcome as filling the open position. I repeat: improving your bench strength is just as important as filling the open position. In other words, when you’re hiring a sales assistant, don’t just hire a sales assistant. Instead, hire someone who will start as a sales assistant and could grow into a sales manager, sales trainer, customer service rep, operations manager, or more. Too often, we hire people whose full potential and ambition are invested in performing the jobs they’re hired for. Then, when we need more from them, they’re not able or willing to go the extra mile.
I have two more resources that will help you in this endeavor. They’re both recorded webinars I’ve created for the Worldpay VAR and ISV partner community:
- 9 Time-Tested Rules for Hiring & Retaining Employees: Learn longstanding principles and a proven, successful process that will exponentially reduce your number of bad hires and make your successful hires even better.
- Delegate or Die – How Successful VARs & ISVs Build Bench Strength: Proper delegation not only reduces your daily workload, it builds the people on your team, makes their career and life more rewarding, and improves your bottom line. Learn proven tactics for effective delegation so your people can perform important jobs without you there.
Just click on those links to access the webinars. And if you would like a copy of the Sales Assistant Pre-Employment Questions and Process document, please reach out to me and I’ll email one to you right away.