Having the Right Rapport with Sales Candidates

Tony Craythorne, Director at Stealth Startup

If there’s one thing you need to learn about Tony Craythorne, he’s a builder, specifically when it comes to businesses, with an eye for finding the right people to join his team. In a recent episode of Tech Salescraft, James sat down with Tony, Director at Stealth Startup, to learn precisely what to look for in new sales candidates.

Tony’s insights are especially relevant to founders looking to launch in overseas markets including the US, having had experience launching businesses from scratch himself in a whole new market.


Busting Salesperson Stereotypes

Salespeople are painted with a broad brush when it comes to first impressions, and some of the most common stereotypes centre around them being competitive, brash, individualistic and pushy.

James recognises the type, but is quick to reveal that he has more often ended up firing such people than keeping them as part of his team. In his view, some of the best salespeople are actually team players, but they also have individual styles and insecurities. The best leaders are capable of communicating to their sales teams that they are on their side.

“Some salespeople are ruthless…I’ve fired some of those types of people…salespeople are individuals, it’s about them, but the best ones are also part of a team and will help their colleagues. Salespeople are also delicate flowers and insecure.”


Fish Out of Water

Tony knows the importance of having leadership on your side, initially finding himself a fish out of water, when he made the leap across the pond from the UK to the US, being appointed VP of Sales at Bell Microproducts in 2003. Unlike the UK, where work was much more chit-chat-oriented, many US businesses were far more straight-to-business there.

During a previous experience at an old job, Tony recalls his workplace having ambitious growth targets which failed to materialise for one quarter in particular, after some unexpected developments. Tony was convinced he would be fired, and thought these missed targets were squarely on his shoulders.

A week later, the CTO rang him up after he went quiet for a time and was puzzled: why would he think the numbers were his fault, they asked. “You didn’t miss the number, WE missed the number; we’re a team”, they said. This last phrase stuck in Tony’s mind; what a salesperson truly wants deep down is to feel like someone ultimately has their back.


No Room for Error

Tony understands the pressures businesses face when wishing to hire someone, but warns of the dangers of getting it wrong, especially if it’s a role, for example, paying $300,000 per annum. When hiring someone to join a sales team, Tony throws out the interview textbook and refrains from having a simple list of questions to tick off.

He prefers to keep interviews conversational, put a candidate at ease, but also bounce around topics, keep them on their toes and spend 2-3 hours during the interview process establishing all-important chemistry. If it doesn’t click, the candidate isn’t a match, but if it does, due diligence is essential.


Having a Backchannel for Hires

Where possible, Tony always looks to have an effective backchannel when assessing sales candidates during the interview process. A simple resume is one thing, often designed to impress easily. However, if you can leverage your own connections to find someone with knowledge of a candidate’s performance elsewhere, a fuller picture emerges.

In one case, Tony recalls how a candidate he interviewed had a glittering CV, which, had he taken at face value, would have allowed them to sail through to getting the job. In spite of that, through a well-placed contact, Tony later discovered the candidate had lied on their resume, ensuring such a mistaken hire wouldn’t be made.

Want to learn more about how to better-support your sales team and find the right sales candidates for your business?

Watch the full episode of Tech Salescraft on YouTube, or across all major podcast streaming platforms.