You can’t open a sales office everywhere you’ve got a customer, but you’d still like to have boots on the ground. That’s why remote software sales team are more common than ever with organizations of all sizes and why you need to know how to interview remote sales talent.
It’s a low-impact solution that leverages everything that’s awesome about a connected workplace. The trouble is – even with LinkedIN and Skype at your disposal – you need to rethink your conventional approach to hiring sales talent.
Maximize Face Time
The biggest challenge of remote hiring is the difficulty of meeting candidates face-to-face. It probably won’t affect your initial interviews, which typically take place over the phone, but you need a video-conferencing solution once you’re seriously considering a candidate.
If it’s feasible, you should bring your shortlist candidates in to meet the people they’ll be reporting to and working with. This is valuable from an evaluation standpoint, but it also strengthens the candidates connection to the team – and vice versa – if they’ve had a chance to put names to faces.
Company culture is more than just free lunches and foosball tables. It’s the system of accountability and connections that form between people in a professional environment. Everybody loves to disconnect from it by working from home periodically or taking a vacation, but many people need the grounding it provides to work efficiently. Ask questions about how how much time they spend with coworkers outside the office and how frequently they work from home.
This can be tough to evaluate, since candidates may have no idea how they’ll react to the long term cultural disconnect. Team players and young sales professionals typically have more trouble than older employees and pure hunters, since they feed off the energy around them. Also, tech-savvy candidates are more likely to find ways to stay connected, if that’s what they want.
Listen To The Devil In The Details
No matter how good your suite of connectivity tools, remote employees will always be harder to manage. They don’t need to walk past your office every day, working across time zones screws up scheduling and it’s easy to let a call go to voicemail.
If a candidate is constantly rescheduling interviews, takes forever to return your emails or isn’t prompt with deliverables, they’re probably not your best option. Also, ask some pointed questions about CRM use and/or record keeping, since hard data is your best tool for assessing a remote software sales professional.
The one advantage to hiring a remote sales professional is that you have the opportunity to evaluate the candidate in a way that’s very similar to your clients. They may have a winning smile and good qualifications, but if they can’t sell themselves over the phone they probably can’t sell your product, either.