Peter Smith shares what he has learned, sometimes the hard way, in Hiring Squirrels 12 Essential Interview Questions to Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent. He offers sound advice on attracting, interviewing and selecting the best possible salespeople for your retail store.
The book opens with his own personal tale of managing at Tiffany’s, yes, that Tiffany’s. With great bravado, he stepped into an underperforming store with the idea that he knew exactly what to do to turn the store around. You will have to read the book yourself for the rest of the story, but this simply tale was what hooked me into reading the rest of the book. (I will be honest, I do not always read every chapter of the business books I buy.)
The key I took away from this opening chapter is that good retail managers recognize the individuality of the salespeople they employ. Just as all customer are unique people, so are our employees. Successful managers know what characteristics to look for and nurture in potential sales people.
The three common denominators that he identified in great salespeople are:
- Drive for sales
- Empathy for sales
- Resilience for sale
Smith explores each of these characteristics in-depth in following chapters. From there, he spends the majority of the book looking at the retail salesperson from the human resource perspective covering topics such as job descriptions, the interview process, the myth of experience, how 50% of your staff should not be in sales and the importance of hiring squirrels instead of training horses.
Finally, you get to the 12 questions to ask in an interview. Do not rush to this chapter or you will not get the most from this book. You need to have all the background to understand the 12 questions. Peter does not simply tell you the questions but he also tells you what to look for in the answers.
This is a well written and researched book that any retail manager could benefit from.