Want To Hire Top Sales People – Look For Push & Pull When Conducting Interviews

Sales Management Tips from B2B Sales ConnectionsMost people who are involved in the hiring process for sales professionals understand that a candidate’s behaviors are usually more critical to their performance than their experience.

You can teach people the skills they need to accomplish the job but if they don’t have the behaviors you are looking for then they may never become a top performer. Drive, empathy, motivation and attitude are not skills you can teach someone. All you can do is help people who already display these behaviors become the best in their field.

Behavior-based interviewing stems from the belief that past performance is the best predictor of future behavior. In fact, behavioral interviewing is considered to be 55 % predictive of future performance, while traditional interviewing has a success rate of less than 10%.

So how do I find the right sales people for the job? One of the techniques you should use is to investigate the transitions between the candidates past jobs. You are looking for Push versus Pull. What does that actually mean, push vs pull? You need to uncover whether the person was pulled into their previous jobs or pushed out of those jobs forcing them to look for a new one.

What is “Push”? When an employee has been pushed from previous jobs it is usually a pretty good indicator of their behaviors and performance. When you are interviewing you need to form questions that get to the root of why they left each of their previous positions. You are looking for hints that tell you why they were pushed out.

Examples of Push:

  • My boss and I just never got along so I decided to make a change
  • It was not the company for me – we had a difference of opinion
  • I didn’t like – I wasn’t the – They never – They wouldn’t – I couldn’t –

To discover if someone was pushed out of their positions you need to be watching for people who have had conflict of one type or another with their former employers or coworkers. If a person has only been pushed out of a few jobs in a long career then it may not be a symptom of a problem, however if the candidate has had many “push” reasons for leaving then you may have person who does not work well with others.

On the other hand people who were pulled into jobs are the ones you are looking to find. These are the employees, whether sales people or any other position, who are in demand and are seen by their managers, peers and competitors as a valuable addition to a company.

Examples of Pull:

  • My boss moved to ABC company and asked me to come work for him
  • Mr. Jones was one of my customers and he invited me to interview….
  • ABC company was one of my clients and they recruited me……….
  • My professor introduced me to…

These are all examples of people who were pulled into a new company or new position within a company or pulled along by a boss or mentor who knew their value to the company. If you start looking at current employees or employees you had in the past you will quickly be able to identify those who were “Pulled In” and those who were “Pushed Out”.

A quick interview question you can use to determine push or pull is to simply ask; “In 2010 you left ABC company and moved to Widgets Inc. Can you tell me what prompted you to leave ABC Company and take this new position?”

Ask this question for each job change. You will very quickly see a pattern begin to develop that may be a push or pull scenario. Regardless of their answer, ask them to expand on why they felt the job change was needed and justified.

Look for candidates that have a history of being pulled into jobs and you will find yourself working with people who have motivation, a winning attitude and drive.


Robert J. Weese

B2B Sales Coach & Author


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