Benchmark Business Group

Hiring and Sales Skills Work Together To Hire Right

April 20, 2021

Owners in the financial services industry spend a lot of their time developing and improving skills that allow customers to be comfortable with them. Your sales skills, and even natural abilities, might include knowing how to mirror a prospect, how to match their tone, and overall, how to make them feel like a friend. After all, we all know people buy from people they like.

When it comes to hiring though, these same skillsets can be a roadblock to finding the best candidate for your open position. We often hear financial services professionals state that they want their interviews to be relaxed and conversational. And while it’s okay to have that “feeling,” there’s a fundamental issue with treating an interview like you would a sales meeting:

  • In an interview, you’re not trying to sell. You’re trying to buy, in a way. Your goal is to make sure that you have the best candidate, not just for your office, but for the specific open role. If you treat this like a normal meeting it’s likely you’ll slip into sales mode, because it’s natural for you. Instead, you need to treat it like the candidate is selling to you, because they are. Their role is to sell you on the idea that you should hire them.
     
  • Insight: Be clear on what qualities and attributes you need a person to have in order to excel in the open position. Think of this as the list of features and benefits you’d have if you were buying a product or service. It exists to help you know if you’re making the correct decision. In our Financial Services coaching program, Optimal Outcome, we have our clients create a list of the Top Ten Qualities and Attributes to achieve this solution.

The good news is that there are tools and techniques that you’ve already honed in your sales skillset that work well for interviewing:

  • Whether it’s documented or not (we advocate that it is), you probably have a sales process. You’ve closed enough sales that you know what you want to ask a prospect. You may have tools that you use such as a factfinder, a basic set of questions, or even a map that is designed to draw out what you need to know from a prospect. This allows you the freedom to make the sales meeting conversational because you have a structure.
     
  • Insight: Having a set of interview questions that you ask each candidate is a tactic that will give you the freedom to have a “conversational” interview, but still obtain the information you need in order to know you have the right candidate. In our Optimal Outcome program, we provide customizable sample scripts and work with our clients to craft interview questions for the position they need to hire.
     
  • In insurance sales, there’s a set way to judge the risk. You may not make the decision, but you send the information you gather to an underwriter who then determines if the risk of writing that policy is good for the company. It’s a structured procedure that you may not always agree with, but exists to protect the company. When hiring an employee, if you don’t have a clear idea of who you want to hire and a great way of asking questions to determine if a candidate is a fit, how do you really make good hiring decisions?
     
  • Insight: Just like in the sales process mentioned above, you need a way to determine the risk of hiring a particular candidate. It doesn’t have to be as complicated as underwriting. In fact, it can be as simple as using our Optimal Outcome Evaluation Tool. But without a process to determine risk, your decisions are based more on emotion than what’s best for that position. Having this structure will help you better determine the risk of each candidate.

At the end of the day, your sales skills can be a real asset to hiring because they bring structure and focus to finding the right person for the open position. The mistake that many advisors make is treating hiring like a sales process, without having the clarity of who they are looking for, how to “fact-find” to gather that information, and how to determine the risk. Let us help you with a set of proven best practices that can be customized for your business. We call it Optimal Outcome.

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