Identifying and hiring sales people that will regularly perform at high levels can be one of the hardest things to do in business. In this post, we'll share a few tips to make your next sales hire more successful.
Even the most seasoned executives and mature companies struggle to consistently identify, onboard, and keep top sales people. It seems for every company that is able to successfully hire top sales people, there are dozens more that struggle to get it right. We see it all the time. Sales hiring managers blaming Talent Acquisition and Recruiting departments. CEO's getting frustrated with their Sales leaders. Opportunity costs skyrocketing because all the right sales people are missing. Recruiting metrics such as cost-per-hire and time-to-hire going up into the stratosphere. Everyone pointing fingers and blaming anyone else but themselves. It can be the corporate version of "The Hunger Games".
If you want to identify successful and motivated sales people with all the right skills you'll need more than a job description.
It's our observation that the most successful sales hiring managers clearly understand what they need before they begin each search. Likewise, talent acquisition and recruiting teams tend to work better as one unified department or function when everyone on the team works from the same playbook. The very best companies rely on well-developed hiring profiles to assist them in their searches.
Let's say that you want to hire sales people who can effectively draw others in and create energy and provide hope, work the process and use activity/forecast data and pipelines to measure success, show good decision-making ability across their career, provide many examples of proven experience selling to others, and show that they have the discipline to do the hard work day-in-day-out.
This is a great start but it describes most sales people who know how to sell doesn't it? In order to hire sales people who can deliver results and ROI for your particular company, match your culture and the level of performance required to succeed, and bring all the necessary skills to sell your produces or services to your target audiences, we're going to have to be a little more specific.
Use the following questions to develop your hiring profile for sales people:
- Why (specifically) is this job necessary right now? What are the business reasons for the job? What are the economic reasons?
- What resources will our new sales person need in place to perform at a high level?
- What does it mean (in this role) to perform at a high level?
- What does success in this role look like over 1-24 months?
- What does eventual failure begin to look like after 60 days?
- What are the required skills needed to succeed in this role?
- What are the critical attributes and core competencies needed to succeed in this role?
- What are the activities they will be responsible for on a daily/weekly basis?
- What is the expected career path inside our firm? (Or, what does this role set someone up to do next somewhere else?)
- What is the career track of our ideal candidate? (Or, what jobs have they most likely held prior to this job?)
- How (specifically) will this sales person add value to our culture?
- How (specifically) does this sales person match the actual job?
- What (reasonable) proof do we have this sales person will be able to perform at the level we need to succeed?
- Does this sales person bring the correct soft/hard skills?
- Does this sales person bring the correct technical skills?
- Do you need someone who might eventually lead and manage others?
You might also consider the following while searching for high performing sales people:
- Double-check to make sure the candidate has the necessary abilities, attributes, and competencies to achieve the desired outcomes they need to succeed in the role.
- Consider searching and hiring people with a “jagged resume” (The Rare Find, George Anders), and base decisions less on time working in the industry, and more for pure grit, ambition, attributes, and the ability to successfully achieve required outcomes and goals. (see this post on why)
- Do you already have in place a clearly outlined sales process that can be easily understood (and followed) by every person in sales?
- Do you have a robust, but easy-to-use, CRM system that provides reporting on everything from monthly call data to forecasting and reporting to opportunity pipeline data and more.
- Have you defined potential career paths (in-and-then-up, in-and-then-over, or in-and-out-and-then-up) once they take the position inside your firm.
- Have you established the correct pay structure? Consider carving some piece out to compensate based on performing at a high level, reaching team/company goals, and/or making incremental improvements over time.
- Figure out how to place more of your sales team’s time and effort on actual selling (cold-calling, building relationships, converting meetings to opportunities, closing new business), and less time on marketing or administration and sales support. Great sales people should be focused on selling.
- Consider interviewing more than once - or even twice if you can - and have candidates meet others in the company, not just one hiring manager. This will provide your team with more of the right information necessary to make the right hiring choice. It's our experience that hiring managers who "trust their gut" generally make more hiring mistakes.
- Define the real need you have. Do you need someone who has B2C experience selling to the same decision makers and at similar price points? Or do you need a B2B sales person who has experience working within a similar 24 month sales cycle? All sales people are not all the same.
- Referral recruiting is your best and potentially lowest cost approach to hiring sales people. Ask your employees who they know and trust.
- You might find the right sales people working inside companies that have just gone through the growth trajectory your own company is about to enter. (Just make sure they worked in an environment with similar resources, tools, quotas, marketing support, etc.)
- Make a list of all the reasons why a sales person should want to join your firm. You will need this to sell the role, people, culture, values, company, teams, location, etc.
To engage TalentSum to build a high performing sales team, get in touch, or if you want to do rewarding talent acquisition-related work that integrates with your life, visit careers to learn more about the profiles we seek.