Susan was no stranger to the secrets of Sales talent. She kept count – 94 sales resources hired or terminated as the HR partner to Sales. She had a knack of getting candid responses during exit interviews. She had a formal process to learn why sales resources were leaving. The intel she gained was invaluable to Sales for improving their organization. This is one reason why the sales leaders loved her.[
However, she sensed the recently installed Chief Sales Officer (Sam) wasn’t satisfied. After all, Sam said, exit interviews were providing only lagging indicators. There must be more proactive value she could provide to Sam. Susan came up with the Entrance Interview.
This post will introduce you to the Entrance Interview tool. You can download the tool here. This tool contains questions to be used when a new Sales resource joins your company. The questions gather the secret information from new hires that is often missed.
Susan built her Entrance Interview to cover these 6 areas:
Cultural fit items (that might have been missed during the hiring process) – It is still not too late to identify a cultural misfit. This misfit might be from either side – Company OR Sales new hire. This checks to see if the new hire has come across cultural red flags.
Susan would also be looking to see if the new hire exhibits signs of a misfit. This doesn’t mean the new hire will have to leave. That might be the case. Susan will identify the potential misfit with the new hire. Then, the new hire can decide to stay or go. If staying, Susan provides ideas on how to help assimilate this new hire culturally.
Market intelligence – This information is of great value to both Sales AND Marketing. Susan asks the new hire what he/she knows about the company’s market/industry. Then, she probes to see what the new hire knows from his/her previous role. There might be some valuable intel for Marketing to capitalize on. Susan would also provide coaching info to the new hire’s manager – how he/she can use previous intel in the new role.
Buyer intelligence – The new hire can provide buyer-specific info he/she leveraged from the previous company. Susan can direct the new hire to report this information to Marketing and Sales. In doing so, he/she will learn about how those organizations work with buyers. And, the company gets new intel on buyer personas and buyer process maps. Not to mention, the new hire will probably bring a rolodex of contact information with him or her.
Competitor intelligence – This is info that may be super valuable. If the new hire is willing to share – some may not legally be free or feel comfortable doing so – Susan would ask how the new hire’s previous company was structured. Also, learning of that company’s aspirations and go-to-market plans is gold.
Future candidates for the virtual bench – Since Susan needs to fill vacancies fast, she will query this new hire for colleagues. This will be an immediate value add to the virtual bench of sales candidates.
Proven and emerging practices – For this last area, Susan usually has a Sales Ops person listen in. That way, the processes, practices and tactics the new hire knows can be noted. Then, Sales Ops can take these potential practices to share across the whole sales force. Entrance Interview Process The Entrance Interview was done between the 2nd and 4th weeks of employment. One reason – to give the new hire a feel for the culture. Also, so that the new sales resource could accumulate questions. And the new hire has a frame of reference to compare to when answering questions. By this time, the new hire should have had internal and external (customer) interactions. Susan also had a Sales Ops person attend the interview – to take notes for leveraging the information in Sales improvement efforts.
Download the Entrance Interview tool. You’ll get a head start on the different questions to ask new Sales hires. It will give you ideas of the sorts of info you can start collecting from new hires. Take the questions in the tool and modify to fit your world. HR partners to sales can share the intel with sales – and increase their value in the process.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net > Ambro.