Why You Should Employ Simulations For Sales Hiring

A friend pointed me to an interview with Guy Kawasaki that was published in the New York Times this morning.  Kawasaki makes some terrific points about hiring.  Here’s one:

Q. How do you hire?

A. The most important thing is that you hire people who complement you and are better than you in specific areas. Good people hire people better than themselves. So A players hire A+ players. But others hire below their skills to make themselves look good. So B players hire C players. C players hire D players, etc.

How true.  Here’s another point:

Another issue is that most people believe they are good interviewers, and that they are good judges of character. They’re wrong. That’s why you see clones of the boss in some companies: everybody is white, tall and from an East Coast private school.

Objectivity is the hardest thing for sales leaders to achieve during their interviews with sales candidates.

To that end, ESR strongly recommends that simulations be part of every sales rep recruitment process.  The candidate is provided with a briefing document in advance of their visit to your office.  They are told to prepare for two simulations.

  1. Sales call simulation. The candidate “meets” with two or three executives or managers from the company doing the hiring.  The candidate executes a “discovery” sales call early in the sales cycle.  The 25-minute simulation provides an opportunity to measure, among other things, the candidate’s demeanor, listening skills, questioning skills, objective setting, qualification approach, how much research they’ve done, and their business credibility.
  2. Presentation simulation. Once the sales call simulation is complete, a twenty-minute break is appropriate.  The candidate sets up their laptop with the presentation they built in advance of this session.  The evaluation team returns to the room and the candidate has the opportunity to simulate a final presentation at the end of the customer’s buying process, with whatever assumptions they’d like.  This 25-minute simulation provides an opportunity to measure, among other things, objection handling, presentation style, executive-level presence, responding to questions, persuasiveness,  and competitive positioning.

I’ve sat through many of these hiring process simulations with clients over the years.  It’s amazing how some candidates will excel live and on the phone during numerous interviews and then fall flat on their face during the simulated sales call or presentation.

Don’t you need to see how that salesrep will perform during a sales call and while presenting your product or service?

Photo: Fotolia.com

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  1. says

    Could not agree more on simulations, Dave. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “You don’t have experience selling backup software.” My question is “So what?”

    Simulation lets you see how the salesperson diagnoses and solves buyer problems. Yet 9 out of 10 hiring managers don’t use it. I don’t know why not.

    Jeff Ogden, President
    Find New Customers “Lead Generation Made Simple”

  2. says

    Love this approach, Dave. It makes me think of scouting in sports: you wouldn’t recruit or draft a new quarterback / outfielder / power forward / whatever based on a resume, would you? You’d want to see them *play*.

  3. says

    Great article. I like to ask everyone…”How many sales books do you
    have in your sales library?” What was the last one and what did you learn?

  4. says

    Simulations are great for training however, they can trip up otherwise effective sales people who do not respond well in gold fish bowls. Spending more time constructing stimulating scenarios can help. In my experience, a simulations effectiveness is proportionate to the time invested in its creation.