Hiring Furniture Salespeople

Hiring Furniture Salespeople

Marken, G A “Andy”

One of the biggest challenges facing the office furniture market is hiring new salespeople who will successfully represent your organization, your products, and you. The difference between the right and wrong choice is far more than the few thousand dollars it will cost to hire and train new people. The real cost is the impact on your operation’ s image and sales.

Because the process of evaluating, hiring and training a furniture salesperson typically takes between six to nine months, it’s good to always keep an eye out for potential candidates. This could save you a whole year’s worth of sales. And, although you can never be assured that every person you hire will be right for a particular job, you can increase your probability of success by following a few simple steps that will take you from identifying the type of person you want to actually getting them.


Before you start the hiring process, write a detailed description of the job. Make a list as detailed as necessary to ensure that you and the people you interview understand the position and what will be expected of them. Determine the level you want your office furnishings salesperson to work at, whether it is corporate accounts, new development, mid- market or small business. Then, decide how you want them to sell. Will this person work closely with a small number of customers, train dealer salespeople, set up promotional efforts, handle item selling, use phone extensively, make many calls or perform missionary work?

Once the job description is defined, make a mental and written description of the person you want. Weigh the attributes that you are looking for.

Compare the qualities of the job with the qualities of the individual. Certain attributes and needs will appear more frequently. At this point, you will have a weighted sheet for the sales job and the individual. Now focus on your specific needs including:

* A fully seasoned individual with years of experience

* A person with a strong sales background

* A very technical-oriented individual

* A person who already knows your product(s)

* A person who is active and enthusiastic

* A person with a college degree

* A high powered, high-income-oriented individual

* An individual with a following

* A bright, young individual with potential


Now you’ re ready to bring the hiring process to a successful conclusion. Set up a new selection guide and use it for all of the people you interview. It will become a yardstick to measure and evaluate each job candidate. List the desired qualities in the order of priority that you feel are most desirable for success. The list may include maturity, detailed product knowledge, tact, etc. You will find that you have three or four lists of qualities that the successful candidate must have, qualities that are highly desirable, and other considerations. With these lists you can give a weighted value to every person you interview, giving each attribute or quality a 1, 2, or 3 rating.

Don’t use your evaluation sheets during the interview. Mark down your weighted evaluations following the interview. The result will be a hiring quotient for each individual based on qualities you have selected as a key to job performance.

Put the person you are interviewing at ease. Establish a rapport with him or her and spend a little time getting acquainted. During the early stages of the interview, concentrate on the individual’s personality. Certain attributes that will qualify or disqualify the person will emerge immediately. Be alert for these attributes.

Use your selection guide as a mental road map to make certain you have covered all of the bases. Examine their past experience closely. What has their income growth been? Their ability to turn situations around? Their ability to recover from negative situations? While it is against the law to ask some types of questions, most savvy interviewers can tailor questions to make the potential employee reveal their past, present and plans for the future.

Don’t ask a series of questions. Instead, use indirect questions, skip back and forth over areas, and don’t follow any specific chronological order. List the areas you want to cover and spell out specific questions in each area. Then, during the course of the interview, cover these areas in a random manner.

While you’re not trying to trick the interviewee, you want to be able to evaluate the candidate as quickly and effectively as possible to determine their total personality and capabilities. This random approach will also permit you to cross-correlate answers so that a true evaluation will emerge.

Even though the final decision lies completely on your shoulders, it is best not to make the total evaluation yourself. Have the candidate interview with one or more members of your organization. By having the person talk with others, you can determine if: they rate the individual’s attributes the same way you do; they see any shortcomings you may have overlooked; they feel that the company chemistry” is right; and they pick attributes or traits which will round out or strengthen your total organization.

Finally, compare the evaluation sheets…one individual should rise above the others. Working from your sheets and your instincts, the hiring process should prove easier and, at least, a little less challenging.

Copyright Imaging Network Co Jan/Feb 2004

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.