Interesting article over on the 37signals blog on why they don't hire programmers based on puzzles or math riddles got me to thinking about how I hire sales people. I have been a little hesitant to write about this as it could potentially change the entire game for anyone bright enough to do a little research and read this blog.
But the gist of it is that I hire sales people that can close me on their ability to close. People that can take me down the sales process. Ask probing questions to determine needs, take control of the meeting, talk about how their skills and experience will meet the needs they uncovered, throw in some trial closes, and ask for the order (in this case the job). Over the past seven months or so I have interviewed hundreds of sales people. Less than a 20 have asked for the order. Half that amount actually led me through the sales process on their ability to do the job.
If sales people can't sell and close you on their ability to do the job there is no way they can actually do it. Don't hire them. Hire closers. And if appropriate ask for their previous years W2s. They are sales people, not everything they say will be 100% true.