Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Sales Training – Does It Form Part Of Your Selection Criteria When Recruiting Sales Staff?

The next time that you are recruiting sales staff to fill an important sales job, just spare a few moments to look at your proposition through the eyes of a candidate.

A serious candidate will already have done some basic research about your organisation and the products or services that you supply but there may still be many questions that remain unanswered right up until the time the interview takes place.

Increasingly, these days, one of the main subjects of interest is the way in which you develop your sales staff over time. Are the good prospects for advancement if performance is good?, is the salary/commission package fair and inspiring, and, more and more, is there regular product and sales training?

Product knowledge and sales training are often confused. Almost everyone in the organisation, to some extent, needs some product knowledge and some of course need in-depth knowledge of the products you sell. Salespeople need to be able to answer customer’s questions up to a point and to have a support structure in place if they are asked very technical or complex questions.

That is product knowledge and most salespeople will acquire a good deal of it as they go on.
Sales training, however, is something quite different. Yes, of course your sales force need to know the product but they do not necessarily need to be experts if you have a good sales support team in place who can provide answers to those slightly stickier questions.

What the salesperson does need is how to position your products when approaching a prospect, where you stand in relation to your competitors and their products, unique selling points, (USPs) and so on.

Then there are the sales skills themselves which are also the focus of a lot of sales training, for example:

How much discount can they give or need to give in order to compete with main competitors?
Upselling and cross selling – what are the available options?
Selling add-on and incremental products & services, e.g. maintenance contracts, warranties, etc.
What are the benefits to the customer of buying your new product, what problems is it going to solve for them?

These are typical elements of a sales training program for any organisation with a dynamic product range and should be made available to all sales people on a regular basis, either as part of an induction for a new employee or as a top-up course for existing salespeople.

Sales is a profession just like any other and those who work within it, on the whole, take their level of professionalism very seriously. Those organisations that provide ongoing training for all of their staff, not just sales staff, will find that attrition rates are lower and performance is higher.

As the UK’s leading specialist sales recruitment agency, Aaron Wallis provides an impressive array of sales training material on our website so if you are looking for a sales job, or an employer seeking to find someone to fill a sales job – take a look at what Aaron Wallis has to offer when it comes to sales training.

Friday, 6 March 2015

What are the bad habits to look out for when recruiting salespeople? - and how a specialist sales recruitment agency can help.

The fact is, we all have bad habits! Yes, even me, and probably you too. 

The habits I’m referring to are things we do in our professional lives in order to make the day go faster, easier and involve less work. So what are the bad habits to look out for when you have a sales job available and you are recruiting sales staff?


Lots of salespeople dislike administration. They tend not to do it properly because it cuts into their selling time. They perceive it to be non-productive so they avoid doing it, always leaving it “until tomorrow.”
The problem is, as we all know, tomorrow never comes and the poor sales guy end up with a pile of incomplete “paperwork”, which nowadays probably doesn't involve paper at all, cluttering up his desk – and his brain.

The result? Things don’t get done, or they get done too late, colleagues are not kept up-to-date with what is going on in the salesperson’s world and things start to break up.

How to spot it at an interview – ask a question like “tell me about your typical day, how do you divide up your time?” If there's no mention of the "a" word, you might want to move onto the next candidate.

Good sales “PR”

Although salespeople frequently operate out in the field, they tend to forget that their colleagues, or at least the office-based ones, do not. Whereas a good field salesperson could, and should, be out and about when the customer has requested to see them, or when there is a good chance of catching someone, the staff that support them back in the office usually work to “normal” office hours.

If you start the day at 6am in order to get to a client for an early meeting because that’s the only time he or she could see you, which is very much the case in a lot of sales jobs, then you could be forgiven for taking a breakfast break after that meeting and then making your way into the office.

Your colleagues, however, may simply see that as “the salespeople here do as they want, turn up when they can be bothered,” being unaware of the actual facts or choosing to ignore them.

The salesperson should always ensure that at least one other person in the office knows their diary, where they are and when they have to be there – this information will percolate around the business and, as a result, colleagues will be aware of the schedule the salesperson has to keep and will think more highly of them although I wouldn't over egg that particular pudding.

How to spot it at an interview – “do you keep a diary, do you share it with colleagues?” “Is it an online diary or the old fashioned paper type?”

Is he or she a team player?

If you ask whether someone is a team player they will probably say that they are, because that's the way many organisations think that work should be structured, but are they really?

Most sales jobs actually involve a team, even if the business does not have a formal team structure.

The marketing department generates leads, the salesman follows those leads up and closes the business, probably after a demonstration by the sales support people, then the production staff, or the buyers, warehouse people and so on, all move in to play their part.

It’s almost always a team effort of one sort or another.

So, when recruiting sales staff and sitting in front of the latest candidate for your sales job, it’s important to know how he or she will fit into the overall structure of the business.

If the salesperson takes a disproportionate amount of the “credit” for the sale it can cause bad feeling and work against the interests of the business so try to nip it in the bud before it happens.

How to spot it at an interview - at an interview, spot the “Lone Rangers” by asking questions like “in your current sales job, how many people are involved in the average sale, from enquiry to delivery, and who are they, (roles, not names)?”

If the answer is “one” or “just me” then proceed with caution.

OK, I know these aren't really bad habits like some I could, but won’t, mention, but they are potential problem pits just waiting to open up and swallow up your time and resources if you are not careful.

When you need to recruit sales staff and be confident that you are talking to candidates that will really fit in with your business culture, always contact a specialist sales recruitment agency like Aaron Wallis. We can pre-screen candidates for your sales jobs and save you time today – and problems further down the line.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Whether Recruiting Sales Staff, Looking for a sales Job or selling a car – does anyone use newspaper classified ads anymore?

It’s Thursday, it’s roughly lunchtime and it’s job advertising day in my local newspaper. I make up an excuse and take an early lunch so that I can make a bee line to the nearest newsagent and pick up a copy. Then it’s off to the canteen to browse the pages of job ads, all presented under the somewhat grandiose title of “situations vacant.”

OK, now that was thirty or so years ago and let me make it clear that I am fully aware that lots of local, and indeed national, newspaper still run ads for job vacancies. My argument is that they are much less common and the number of jobs advertised is smaller.
This can be attributed to a number of factors of which, of course, the main one is probably that the decline in sales of newspapers in the UK is currently happening at around 8% per year. This is often blamed entirely on the Internet and online news sources being more attractive to the consumer but that is only partially correct.

A long, slow decline

In fact, newspaper sales have been declining steadily since the early 1980’s, well before the World Wide Web took its hold over our lives and presented us with so many options and choices that it can sometimes be overwhelming.
On the other hand, some newspapers have survived by changing to a free issue model, London’s Evening Standard, which became free in October 2009, being a well-known case in point, and anyone who has traveled on a train will have been given the option of reading The Metro, completely free of charge, and paid for by advertising revenue – some of which is recruitment advertising.
As an employer, wishing to recruit staff, the number of choices is also mind-boggling. There are still print adverts to be had, locally and nationally, and no doubt this will continue to be the case for years to come.

Classifed job ads live on, but they're less likely to be of the printed variety

The alternative means of advertising for sales staff, technical staff and everything in-between is to go with one or more of the online recruitment websites. There you will find advertisements for everything from cleaners to cooks, shop assistants to secretaries, mechanics to managers and everything in-between. The range of vacancies on offer can be bewildering and, for that reason, sometimes wrong decisions can be made.
When it comes to recruiting staff for specialist jobs, such as IT sales staff, software sales staff or electrical sales staff then there is a case for moving away from the one-size-fits-all approach of many of the big job websites and looking towards more specialist recruitment agencies for a solution.
This is a tried and tested approach that has its history in the classified ads that were run in Industry Specific publication titles that serve a particular market. Many industries had, and still have, their own newspapers and magazines which carry news that is relevant to that industry but of little interest to anyone outside of it. It is to those publications that employers seeking to recruit specialist staff turn because they know that they will be read by those in the industry or who wish to become involved in that industry.
Similarly, if you are wanting to recruit sales staff, perhaps specialist financial sales staff, medical sales staff and so on, then it also pays dividends to stick to the specialists. Aaron Wallis are a specialist sales recruitment agency and work tirelessly to find the best candidates for their client’s vacant sales jobs.

Do whatever it takes to find the right person for your vacant sales jobs

Your next new member of the sales team probably won’t find you by way of a newspaper classified ad, but if he or she has access to email, the Internet or a smartphone or tablet, then if they don’t find you, we will almost certainly be able to find them for you.
We maintain a database of candidates who have been carefully screened and assessed so that we know exactly who to recommend them to when the right sales job becomes available.

Online ads, specialist recruitment websites, networking and social media websites and dedicated people just like us, have made it much easier to recruit the right sales staff for your sales jobs, all over the UK and beyond.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Now that we all interact with each other in different ways, thanks to technology, what new qualities should you look for when recruiting sales staff?

My kind of salesman, my kind of sales job

One of my favourite episodes of my all-time favourite comedy show, Dad's Army, was the one in which Captain Mainwairing's "twin" brother shows up to discredit his bank manager sibling by claiming that he had stolen a watch left to him by their deceased father.

When asked by one of the soldiers, what he did for a living, the somewhat sozzled brother replied that he was a salesman - actually what he said was that he "travelled in novelties," (meaning that he sold jokes and cheap toys), and then produced a few joke-shop tricks to show to the men in the regiment.

Although by today's standards, swigging from a hip flask, dressed in a flamboyant but slightly unkempt way and visiting his customers almost as if it was a social occasion and not a business appointment would be strictly non-acceptable behaviour for a sales person, in those days, it wasn't.

I'm not suggesting that people tolerated drunkenness in the workplace of course, the character was exaggerated for comedy effect, but the underlying point stands. Field sales jobs were almost entirely a male territory and salespeople were expected to be personalities, taking clients to lunches that lasted most of the afternoon and doing deals on the shake of a hand and without a shred of due diligence or a credit check in sight.

Product knowledge was important but not in an obsessive way, the social skills of a salesperson outweighed the product knowledge in terms of importance, by a long chalk.

The saying, "people buy people" was certainly true then, as it is now, but for different reasons.

So, back to the point - what qualities do you need to look for in a candidate when recruiting a salesperson to fill one of your sales jobs and how do they differ from just a few years ago let alone from the days when Captain Mainwairing and his army of geriatric heroes saved us all from the threat of the Hun?

It's time to be sociable - again

The answer, I would suggest, is not so great as you might think. Thanks to technology, we've learned to be sociable again, but in a totally different way and the line between personal interaction with friends and with business associates has been blurred. It can all be blamed on Social Media - Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and, of course, LinkedIn.

Many of us reveal a lot more about ourselves than we realise when we take part in social media exchanges. We know much more about our customers before we contact them, or call on them, because they voluntarily make that information available on their websites and on social media sites.

A canny salesperson, who knows how to use and manipulate LinkedIn Groups and to deep-dive into the demographic data on Facebook and Twitter, is at a distinct advantage when picking up the telephone to speak to those prospective clients.

If he or she has access to a carefully maintained CRM and prospect database then a much greater depth of knowledge can be gained about the person he or she is going to interact with in the hope of landing some business.

Not only that, but there are so many more ways of interacting with those people than there ever were before. Mainwairing's brother packed his whole business into a kit bag and carted it around with him. Now, that is rarely necessary - in most sales jobs a few videos and a slide deck and the job is done.

More to think about when recruiting for sales jobs

So now we should be thinking in terms of recruiting sales staff who have a good understanding of how their customers and prospective customers tick by way of their understanding of how social media ticks.

Nowadays, the winners are the ones who can pick up on a Tweet that indicates someone may be in the market for your product or service, or intercept and interact with a conversation about your product or others like it in a LinkedIn thread or a Facebook post. Wherever this "Buzz", as it is called, its taking place your sales staff should be aware of it and interacting with it, creating opportunities, creating sales.

So at your next sales recruitment interview, along with all the "usual" questions, remember to ask a few to establish how at home the candidate is with the art of being sociable and interacting with people, online and off.

Specialist sales recruitment agencies like Aaron Wallis will provide you with all the right questions to ask when recruiting sales staff, having already screened the candidates to include only those with genuine potential to add value to your business. Contact us today and discuss the sales jobs you may with to recruit for - we're always happy to help.


Monday, 23 February 2015

Recruiting Sales Staff in London – How to Stand Out in a Crowd and Attract the Best.

Finding the right people for your sales jobs in London.

Recruiting sales staff in London ought to be the same as recruiting talented individuals anywhere in the UK and, to a large extent, it is.
There are, however, some subtle differences which makes it even more important for the employer seeking to recruit sales staff in the capital to make use of the specialist services of a sales recruitment agency.

Accommodating their accommodation requirements

First of all, for those seeking sales jobs in London, there are considerations of accommodation availability and cost. With the average price of property in London being in excess of £464,000, (this does depend on your definition of London in terms of distance from the city and, of course, on the size and type of accommodation that is required), and an average one-bedroomed flat costing in excess of £1200 per month to rent, this basic human need will be a major factor for your candidates to consider and for you to bear in mind when recruiting sales staff.

Underground, Overground & the cost of congestion

Add to this, the cost of getting around and bearing in mind that, in many London locations, parking is next to impossible or prohibitively expensive, for many, public transport is the only way to get in to work and back home again.
A weekly London travelcard covering zones 1-4 would cost some £46 and this cost also has to be taken into account. Although the cost of public transport in London could be considered to be a fair deal when compared to the cost of using a private car in and around the city where congestion charges will also apply.
A good sales recruitment agency will make sure that candidates are aware of the costs of moving to London or another large city or, if they plan to commute, they will make sure that they are aware of the cost and strain of potentially long commutes.
The salary and other remuneration will of course have to reflect all of the above and those working in the capital do expect, and need, to be paid at a higher rate than elsewhere.

The home option - more viable now than ever before

If it is possible for your sales staff to work from home at least part of the time then this should be made known from the outset as many people looking for sales jobs in London will consider this to be a considerable bonus and maybe even a deciding factor.
Low-cost, high-speed Internet connections are widely available now in most parts of London and for the mobile user, 4G coverage is excellent. This situation is very different outside of the capital and the 4G roll-out is far from complete nationally but an acceptable speed for Internet connectivity should be available in most areas. I myself worked from a farmhouse in the Peak district until quite recently and, although there was little or nothing in the way of 3G, let alone 4G, there was good voice and data provision over the old fashioned cable network.

Don't underestimate the competition

Then, there is the matter of competition. There are more sales jobs available in London than anywhere else in the UK with many aspiring high-flyers thinking that they need to make the move in order to work for the bigger players and make their name in the industry they have chosen. This is especially true in Finance, Media, Marketing and Retail, with most of the major brand leaders being based in, or close to, the capital.

Many of those seeking sales jobs in London will look at hundreds, apply for dozens and get interviews for a few - it's important to ensure that they are aware of your sales recruitment activities when they are looking for a change of employer.

As an employer seeking to recruit sales staff in London your best advice is to contact a specialist sales recruitment agency such as Aaron Wallis who will only offer you potential candidates who are willing, able and in fact eager to face up to all of the challenges that working in such a sprawling, busy, overcrowded, exciting and vibrant place will throw at them.

Let Aaron Wallis introduce you to those who are seeking sales jobs in London and who fit your employee profile exactly.

Aaron Wallis - specialist sales recruitment experts finding the right people for your sales jobs in London.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Interview Nightmares: From Common Mistakes to the Very, Very Strange....

As a Recruiter we get feedback from interviews on a daily basis, in many cases you get some very interesting comments and stories, with the occasional strange ones. I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the interview nightmares that candidates can get themselves into.

Candidate Interview Nightmares:

Body Odour – It doesn't happen too often but I have had clients mention a candidate’s hygiene in their feedback.  If people can smell you before they see you then you are not getting the job!

Not knowing the Job Role – There can be no excuse for not reading the interview preparation and job specification prior to attending the interview; one candidate described a completely different position when asked what makes them right for the role.

Looking at your Mobile Phone – Mobile phones have no place in a job interview, it’s inappropriate and very rude to acknowledge your mobile phone whilst speaking to someone directly, let alone in an interview where you are being critiqued from the first second.

Smelling of Cigarettes – This is a popular comment among clients as a lot of smokers tend to have a cigarette prior to an interview to calm their nerves; this is totally acceptable to do so as long as you have given yourself plenty of time to freshen up afterwards. It can be a very off-putting for the interviewer who may not smoke themselves.

Drinking prior to an interview – everyone likes a little Dutch courage when their nervous and of course an interview can certainly be that but know where to draw the line.  

Inappropriately Dressed – When you dress for interview it is imperative you turn up looking professional and polished. We once had a client tell us of a candidate that turned up wearing a woolly hat.

Weird and Very Inappropriate - All of the above should be basics to understand when you’re going into a job interview but happen more than you would think, however they don’t come close to the following Interview Nightmares.

We had a candidate ask one of our clients out on a date which didn't go down too well as the client was happily married.

Even stranger than that was a candidate trying to switch the process around and ask the client why they should hire him and having been told at the end it would  not be going any further, proceeding to tell the client that the company were not a good fit for him.

And Finally….

Although most interview nightmares are candidate led, we do come across the occasional feedback regarding a client’s odd behaviour.

We had one recent example of an employer interviewing a candidate with their feet on the desk and texting on their phone whilst the candidate presented to them!  It came across as completely disrespectful and of course put the candidate off working for the company.

Written by Liam Oakes
Liam is the Sales Recruitment Manager at Aaron Wallis and has been with the company for 4 years after having a career with the RAF; Liam has helped hundreds of Sales Professionals secure a new Sales role and ensures that Aaron Wallis runs smoothly.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

5 Things to Look for in a Cover Letter

When looking for the perfect candidate for a position that you are hiring for, the cover letter is a crucial piece of the puzzle. It is too time consuming to look through every resume that comes to you. The cover letter gives you a little peek into the people that are applying for the position. There are several things that you want to see in the cover letter.

1.      The cover letter needs a well organised appearance.

Cover letters are meant to show a little bit about the person who is presenting you with their resume. It is important for the cover letter to have a neat and organised appearance instead of jumbled and unclear. The saying “less is more” is very true in this case. If the cover letter is full of information, that makes it harder to understand and get to know the person who wrote it.  Also, having an unorganised cover letter can show you as how unorganized they may be when it comes to their job.

2.      Does the applicant have the necessary skills for the job?

Although a majority of the skills will be mentioned in the resume, it is still common for applicants to talk about what they can bring to your business. This shows a preview of the skills that they possess. If they have nothing to offer your company, there is a good chance that they do not have all the necessary skills to do their job.

3.      How does the applicant stand out?

When reviewing cover letters for potential candidates of the job you are hiring for, a good thing to look for is what makes this applicant stand out. It is a waste of time to look in detail through every resume that comes before you, so finding things that make some applicants stand out is a way to narrow down your search. Chances are those that make their cover letter and resume stand out are better candidates than those that did not.

4.      Good writing skills/ well thought out

Something else to keep in mind when looking at cover letters is how well written and well thought out it is. Hiring someone with poor writing skills or a thrown together cover letter can be an indicator of how they will behave when it comes to their job. If they are not willing to take the time to get their cover letter right, they are most likely not a good candidate for the position you are hiring for. Poorly written cover letters can be an indication of laziness.

5.      Sense of who someone is

A cover letter is like the wrapping paper on a present. It is supposed to show you a tiny peak inside the resume and let you know a little bit about the candidate. Getting to know a little bit about someone before meeting them allows you to structure your interview around each individual.

Cover letters are an essential part of hiring someone or applying for a job. They give recruiters a little taste of who the applicant is and what they can do for the company.

For more articles on how to hire the right staff into your business visit

How to Customize Interview Questions for Sales Interviews

When it comes to interviewing potential candidates for a position, it is essential to find someone that would fit well with your company. Aside from the standard questions that most interviewers ask, there are several ways that you can customize your interviews in order to find the perfect person to hire.

1.      Look at an applicant’s resume and assess what they could add to your company

The first obvious step is to take a detailed look at an applicant’s resume to determine what they have to offer your company. Taking a look at their resume ahead of time will allow you to ask them further about what they think they can add to your company. Each person will have a unique reason they believe they would be an asset to your company.

2.      Determine what you are looking for in regards to the job

Another thing you can do to customize your job interview questions is to be confident on what you are looking for in a candidate you want to hire. Knowing ahead of time what your company needs will give you a chance to determine who out of the applicants you need to fill in the gap in your company.

3.      Consider behavioural interviewing

Behavioural interviewing is a reasonably new thing in regards to finding the perfect person for the job you are hiring for. This type of interviewing focuses on asking question about candidate’s past and future behaviours that can help determine what type of an employee they would be. You should ask questions about what they have or would do in certain situations or their competence with
certain tasks.

4.      Ask questions that show what the candidate knows about your company

An important thing to find out in any interview is whether or not the candidate knows anything about your company or the position they desire. A great way to find this out is to ask questions that can allow them to show you what they know. An example of this would be to ask them what your company could do to be more competitive. This would allow you to find out whether or not they are familiar with your company and the job they want do. It also can give you some insight into their thoughts on the business in general.

Although there are standard questions that most interviewers ask, in order to really get to know a candidate for a job, tailoring each job interview for the person is a wonderful way to get to know a potential employee.

5 Questions to Ask During the Hiring Process

When it comes to hiring someone new to join a sales team, the pressure is on to select the right candidate. But having to decide from a cover letter, a CV and a few face-to-face meetings whether someone is worth taking a chance on can be a tough ask. 

At Aaron Wallis, we know that recruitment is all about asking the right questions. When you’re interviewing someone for a role, asking the right questions can coax the interviewee into giving the answers you really want to hear – the answers that will tell you if they’re right for the job. We’ve come up with a selection of five great questions to ask during the interview process that will help you to narrow it down and choose the best candidate for your business.

1.     What previous work experience have you had to prepare you for this position?
Forget generic questions like, “Why are you a good fit for this position?” Instead, try to encourage the candidate to come up with specific examples and reasons why they’d be suitable for the job. Not only do they have to think on their feet, they also have to provide you with some insight into their work experience in order to answer the question. Two birds with one stone! Their answer should give you a clearer picture of the candidate’s working background, and whether or not their experience is suited to the position they’re applying for.

2.     From what you have learned about our company and this role, how could you make a contribution?
This question will help you discover whether your candidate is a serious contender for a role. Great candidates will have done their research on your company before the interview, and will know how they can make a valuable contribution to your business. The answer to this question should be bursting with enthusiasm, and must demonstrate some prior knowledge of your company. Watch out for generic answers – they’ll come from unsuitable candidates.

3.     Where do you see yourself in five years?
Want to gauge how ambitious and driven an individual is? Ask them this question. Pay attention not only to their vocal answer, but also to their body language as they respond. A truly ambitious, committed and motivated person will appear animated and passionate when talking about their hopes for the future. This is the kind of person you want representing your company.

4.     Give me an example of a time that you had to go above and beyond to get the job done or accomplish a task?
Their answer to this question will give you a sense of how dedicated the candidate is to their career. If they can’t think of any examples at all, it speaks volumes about their levels of commitment and overall attitude to their job.

5.     Do you have any questions?
This is a fairly standard interview technique – and for good reason. This question can speak volumes about a person, and it gives you more of an insight into their overall personality. If the candidate answers ‘no’ to this question, it’s more likely (though not certain) that they’re a passive person who lacks initiative. If the person asks self-centred questions about their pay or benefits, they’re more engaged but perhaps not a team player. The perfect candidate asks questions about the job itself, the role, the company and the expectations of them as a potential employee.

So you see, asking the right questions can tell you all you need to know about a potential recruit for your team. 

For more articles to help you recruit for your sales team visit: