Newsflash: Salespeople are expert exaggerators. It’s a skill they pick up on the job, selling products and services. So by default, that makes them very good interviewers—or at least on the surface. They’ll make you smile, serve you up some amazing stats and facts on a silver platter, blow your mind with incredible success stories, and paint a beautiful picture of themselves for you. But being a good interviewer is not the same thing as being a good salesperson who will bring your company to the next level.

As a hiring manager, you might have the intuition to pick up on things that might not feel right, but truly, if you want to build a quality sales team, it takes a sales headhunting firm to filter out the blatant liars and bull. At NewConfig, we’re experts at sniffing out the BS. We understand the minds of salespeople, and we possess the skills and techniques to separate the wheat from the chaff. We know what questions are effective, the psychology involved in the interview process, and how to spot all the telltale signs of minimal skill set.

Here are a few effective ways we help companies like yours separate the blatant liars from the winners with great potential.

Ask For More Than Just a Resume

It is so easy for sales candidates to inflate numbers—how often do you hear a candidate say, “I achieved 50 percent of my quota?” But, believe it or not, the majority of salespeople don’t hit their targets—57 percent, in fact, don’t. That’s why you need an experienced sales headhunting firm to sift through the facade and obtain more details on specifics. We do this by asking the salesperson to provide much more than just a resume.

Requiring your candidates to fill out a very detailed career history form helps to add another layer that we can leverage to help you get rid of poor performers. A career history form is a lengthy account of the salesperson’s work history and requires way more detailed info than can be found on a vague and sometimes misleading résumé. If a candidate is not willing to fill one of these out or promises to fill one out once deeper into the hiring process, it might indicate that the candidate is either not serious about the job or else trying to hide results. A great candidate would have no issues or problems providing the very specific and detailed info we need, and in a timely manner as well.

Recognize Superfluous Language

Really good salespeople are busy doing what they do best: selling. They don’t have time for anything else, so when you hear things like, “I was responsible for monitoring the day-to-day sales tasks,” or “I fostered relationships between marketing and sales,” or “I participated in updating sales incentive packages,” they don’t really hold a lot of weight. Those are vague statements that translate into, “I’m trying to make it sound like I was more important than I was. I actually didn’t accomplish much.”

Does the resume have the vague or superfluous language to describe menial tasks or soft skills? This is usually an indicator that the salesperson is attempting to conceal something by making nonselling or average tasks seen more important. Here is a good example: “I generate a high volume of sales by applying creative solutions and strategies in order to meet customer needs.” First, “high volume of sales” should be listed as an actual quantity, either as a dollar revenue against quota or percentage of sales target. Also, “creative solutions and strategies” is way too vague to be taken seriously. It just doesn’t give any evidence as to what methodology the candidate was using and how the so-called “solution” was built to meet the customer’s needs.

Here are a few other superfluous words that our experts at Newconfig look out for:

  • Results-driven
  • Team player
  • Dynamic
  • Highly motivated
  • Well Rounded
  • Experienced

On the flip side, there is some positive language our experts at Newconfig look out for as well: For example, top-performing salespeople are up to 10 times likelier to use collaborative words and phrases than their low-performing colleagues—words like “we,” “us,” “our,” and “together” instead of “you,” “I,” “me,” and “your.”

Identify Gaps and Multiple Jobs

Top salespeople are usually gainfully employed and getting results. If there are consecutive months of missing employment, that might be a sign of an under-performance. According to Hubspot, the average account executive spends 2.7 years on a given sales job and takes 4.7 months to ramp. Of course, there are always understandable reasons why a salesperson might have missing time in their history, but a great candidate will be candid and open about gaps and be willing to address them with no hesitation.

Likewise, pay attention to how time is listed: If a candidate only uses years to describe time, this could be an attempt to hide periods of unemployment. A good resume will be precise and include months along with years.

Another point that a sly candidate might be able to slip past you is how many jobs he or she has had. While it can be good for a candidate to show a diverse work experience in multiple positions and industries, you have to be very wary of any candidate who has many jobs listed in a very short period of time. When a salesperson has worked at seven companies in a five-year time period, for instance, it may be a sign that something is wrong. There just are no unemployed “A+” players out there. Of course, there will be explanations for shorter stays (mass lay-offs), but just know to investigate them rather than assume the best.

But again, Salespeople are expert exaggerators. They can talk charming circles around you if you’re not careful. It really takes a good sales headhunting firm that knows how to do the research and check the facts on those reasons as well. NewConfig understands the ins and outs of a salesperson’s mind. Call us today! You won’t regret it.