When you're seeking an appointment seller for your business and have identified some promising candidates, conduct their first interview over the telephone. These individuals must sound absolutely fantastic in order to get an in-person interview.

If you haven't already received any of the candidates' resumes, ask where they're working now. If it's not in telephone sales, ask them why not. It's usually not a good idea to hire someone who tried phone sales in the past, and quit. It could mean they don't really like phone sales.

Ask what awards they've won in telephone sales. There are normally a variety of awards available for salespeople – some big, some small. Anyone worth interviewing in person should have at least been named salesperson -of-the-week at a local branch. If you decide to schedule an in-person interview, tell them to bring their award (letter of recognition, whatever) to the interview.

Ask them to do the presentation they normally do when they sell their current product over the phone. If they can't do it, they're eliminated.

If their current job includes quoting prices and closing sales, ask them what they say when people tell them their price is too high.

Don't discuss money during the telephone interview.

If the telephone interview goes well, invite them for an in-person interview.

The First In-person Interview
Here are eight things to cover in the first in-person interview:

1. The applicant must arrive on time. Being even one minute late disqualifies them.

2. Have them fill out an employment application. It must be completely filled out.

3. Tell them your company's history. Make sure they know this is a legitimate company selling a legitimate product. That's a rare treat for telephone sales professionals. The person you're going to hire will be very enthusiastic about the concept of getting a "real" job with a "real" career, at a "real" company, selling a "real" product.

4. Show some customer testimonials and any awards your company has won. In other words, sell your company.

5. Explain what they'll be selling and show any scripts you might have.

6. Give the individual a typing test. There are a number of them available online for free.

7. If the typing test goes well, give them the test at www.assessment.com. One of the challenges in recruiting is hiring someone who is a natural for the job. The problem is that lots of job applicants will agree to just about anything, including taking a job they don't even want, just to start collecting a paycheck. If a person doesn't enjoy telephone sales and want to do telephone sales as a career, they won't be as successful at it as someone who does. There's a very inexpensive test at www.assessment.com that people can take to see what type of work suites their personality.

8. If you've been recording incoming phone calls, play a half-dozen or so for applicants and ask them to critique them. Ask how they'd do it better.

Some 'Don'ts'

Don't hire a person on the first interview. People will never again be the same person they were during their first interview.

Don't tell anyone they're going to help you build the department and eventually become the manager. You're not hiring a manager trainee; you're hiring an appointment seller. Plus, who knows what the future holds? What if, after they come to work for you, someone else comes along who is better suited to manage that department?

Don't hire anyone who starts filling your head with a bunch of stories about how they can develop a telemarketing room and make you rich. All you'll get out of that is heartbreak, hassles, and expenses.

Don't hire anyone who is new to the area, has just gotten divorced, or lives too far from the shop.

Between interviews
You will have to determine which candidates deserve a second interview. After the first interview:

  • Get their results from www.assessment.com, print them out, and review them.
  • Do a web search on candidates and try to find them on every social media website you can think of.
  • Run a criminal background check.
  • Call previous employers and their references.
  • Hopefully, the job applicant will mail or e-mail you a "thank you" note.

The Second In-person Interview
Now things are getting serious. Like the first in-person interview, there are eight steps to the second one. They are:

  1. Ask applicants if they have any questions.
  2. Give them a copy of their results from www.assessment.com.
  3. Show the individual their work area
  4. Introduce them to their direct co-workers
  5. Give the individual a "tour" of the software program they'll be using. Show them every single form they'll be using and every report they're required to generate
  6. Make sure they know the hours they'll be working
  7. Go over the money
  8. If all goes well, offer the position. Allow the individual twenty-four hours to decide to accept the position.

In the next article, I'll cover training your new appointment seller.

Charlie Greer has worked with HVAC contractors for more than 20 years. He’s the creator of "Who Answers the Phone?" an audio series that teaches HVAC contractors how to recruit and train an appointment seller, and teaches appointment sellers how to do their jobs better. For more information, visit www.hvacprofitboosters.com or call 800-963-HVAC (4822). -Email Charlie at charlie@charliegreer.com.