Hiring Salespeople: Should you verify their past performances?

By Adam Robinson,
January 28, 2013

Let’s take a step back in time for a moment…

Do you remember filling out those never-ending college applications? You probably sat down, head in hand, asking one of your parents what to say.

A personal statement? What am I supposed to say – I won a trophy at a dance recital in second grade and in eighth grade I volunteered one weekend at the humane society?

Of course you didn’t do this, but some of your friends probably padded the amount of time they spent volunteering and the recognition they received for various activities. It seemed harmless, and probably didn’t have much affect on whether or not you were accepted to that school. The thing is though, that exaggeration didn’t stop with college apps. In an increasingly competitive industry, some sales “professionals” have resorted to falsifying information on their resumes and/or during interviews. 

So the answer is yes, you should verify past performances.

Before we go any further, this isn’t to say that all sales candidates exaggerate. It’s just a reminder that resumes are marketing collateral, and deficiencies are typically not included. 

With that being said, let’s take a look at how you can verify past performance.

1. Check their W2s from the past three years

If the candidate told you that they had a $150,000 year last year, here’s where you find out beyond any shred of doubt. You can’t lie to the tax man – if it’s not in the W2, they didn’t earn it that year.

2. Talk to each supervisor they’ve had during the past 10 years

Personally reach out to each and every supervisor the candidate has had in roles during the past 10 years. Don’t rely on HR to do it, and by all means, do not hand it off to a third party service. Set up some time to talk with them over the phone about the candidate. This way, you’ll learn what you need to up front and won’t be in for any surprises later on.

3. Ask them to develop a 90-day plan

Ask them to ‘put a plan together to show me how you’ll spend your first 90 days’ This process will give you a real look into the mind of your candidate, revealing how they think, how they approach a new sales job, and how they set expectations for themselves. You’ll also get to see their presentation skills when they explain the plan to you and answer questions that you have.  

Hiring salespeople doesn’t have to be hard, and it definitely shouldn’t be giving you a headache. By following these verification steps, you’re protecting yourself and your company from a potentially large loss of time and money. 

For more advice on hiring salespeople, be sure to download our guide.


About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

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