Do you know how to check references of a potential sales recruit properly? Knowing how is one of the most important skill for a sales manager to have. Even if you think you have just interviewed your perfect sales candidate and are ready to make an offer of employment, you still should make every effort, by whatever means possible, to ensure that they are who they say they are. And the best way to do this is by conducting thorough reference check.
Do All Sales Managers Want to Know How to Check References?
Some employers do not believe in checking a potential sales candidate's references. They believe that no one would provide the name of a bad reference. So why bother waste the time to contact them. While this is true, when the review process is planned and executed properly, references can give you valuable insight into a candidate's skills and personality that you cannot find anywhere else.
Other sales managers simply are too busy to make all the calls to check a sales recruit’s references. If that’s your situation, you can hire a professional organization that specializes in this area to conduct the reference interviews for you.
Regardless of the method, you should always take the time to complete the reference checks before you formally offer the sales person a job.
A List of References to Contact
Most candidates already have a list of three references prepared when they arrive for their interview. While this is a good place to start, often these references can be of a personal nature, as opposed to work related.
In addition to their prepared list, ask the candidate for at least three names of past supervisors, co-workers or colleagues that they have worked with in the past that you could also contact. If a candidate cannot provide at least three names and phone numbers for work related references, you should think twice before hiring them.
While some recruiters like to check references via email with an email template, I prefer to use the telephone.
Once you receive a list, one of the best ways on how to check references is to have the candidate arrange in advance for their references to expect your telephone call at a specific date and time. Then you can simply reach out to the supplied references within a that specified time frame.
How to Check References – What Questions to Ask
Just like your candidate interviews, you need to ask the same questions on each of your reference interviews. Also, those questions should be scripted a head of time. As you will be asking the same questions to all, not only will it be very easy to compare the answers given by each reference on the same candidate, but across candidates as well.
The Candidate Reference Check Form included in our automated sales tool, Recruiting, Hiring & Human Resources Tool Kit will ensure that you ask all the right questions to each reference contacted. As you will be asking the same questions to all, not only will it be very easy to compare the answers given by each reference on the same candidate, but across candidates as well.
Other Ways How To Check References
Another way to check a candidate's references is by asking for copies of reference letters. While no candidate will ever give you a copy of a bad reference letter, and you need to keep in mind that in some cases the candidate has written the letter and just asked for the reference to sign it, they still can be a source of valuable insight into the candidate and their skills.
If nothing else, it is another way to obtain a name and phone number of someone you can call and complete a thorough reference check as discussed above.
How to Recruit the Best Sales Professionals (Includes 11 Telephone Interview Questions to Find Top Performers)
References Don’t Have to Come from the Candidate
References do not have to always be provided directly by the applicant. If you know someone at their previous employer, ask their opinion on your potential hire. Use your business contacts and networks to research the candidate.
Under no circumstances, however, should you ask someone at the candidate's current employer without their permission. They have applied to you in confidence. As such, you have no right to inform their current employer that they are in the process of making a career change.
The Overlooked Reference For Your Sales Candidate
Ever wonder if you could get inside a sales candidate's head to find out what they actually think about themselves? It truly would be one of the best reference checks you could do before hiring them.
There are a few things you can do to get a glimpse of how a candidate thinks. The first is to enter the candidate's name into a few search engines like Google. In this case, no news is good news. You can also search the online social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. If your potential sales candidate is registered, their online profiles can be very revealing.
Although you may not find anything online about your potential sales candidate, it can be well worth the few minutes it took you to check.
In Sales Recruiting, If You Snooze, You Lose!
Is sales recruiting easy? No! In fact, a recent study published in Profit Magazine reported; 'Finding the right sales talent was one of the biggest concerns facing sales organizations today.'
Given the difficulty in finding the right salesperson, you have to ensure you are doing everything possible to act quickly when an opportunity arises.
- If you are advertising an open sales job, review the applicants as soon as they come in. Don't let the applications pile up.
- When an outstanding resume crosses your desk, pick up the phone immediately and book an interview. The more time that passes, the more likely the chance that the applicant will find employment elsewhere.
- After your interviewing and reference checking process is complete, if you believe you have found the right sales professional for you and your organization, make an offer and make it quickly. If your perfect fit was interviewing with you, they were probably interviewing with other sales orgainizations as well. Make the hiring decision today, as they may not be available tomorrow.
Let's face it. You are not the only sales organization looking for qualified sales talent. It's a competitive marketplace, and if you snooze, you lose!
“… what I can tell anyone, is simply this – If you want to learn and understand sales, talk to Susan.”
Do you need detailed, step by step instructions on how to recruit, screen and hire the right sales professionals for your organization? Then check out my book, Action Plan For Sales Management Success.