Successful sales hiring, in any company, is one of the most difficult tasks in which to achieve repeatable success. From unexpected outbursts to terminal tardiness to woeful incompetence, every company has a sales hiring horror story regarding employees who interviewed strong but performed poorly.
Perhaps a subtle, but more dangerous occurrence is the all-too-common hire who performs their job in the gray twilight of mediocrity. They never rise to the occasion and they never catastrophically fail. They interviewed well but now simply perform their role in a nondescript manner within the company.
Amass too many of these employees and your company will be overwhelmed with mediocrity…or worse. How do you identify candidates who have unseen natural capacities that will elevate them to record-setting achievements?
There are 4 pillars that are present in all repeatable, successful sales hiring processes.
- Always select talent and skills over experience.
Experience is a definite benefit to shortening a sales ramp, but it is not an airtight predictor of success. This over reliance upon experience in hiring decisions is the foremost error companies make when selecting new salespeople.
The issue is simple – no two companies are the same, no two cultures are the same and no two sales are the same. Competitors still approach the market from different points. Competitors have unique cultures that may be sales-focused, engineering-focused, financially-focused. A salesperson who is successful in one culture may very well be a flop in a different culture.
A successful salesperson from a competitor may have inherited the strongest territory. They may receive a disproportionate amount of leads. They may have the competitor’s largest customer in their territory. You will never know the answer to all of these questions.
However, you can know the answer to their skill and talent level. These are abilities that can be objectively measured. You can know how they will fit into your sale before they ever land on your payroll. Our assessments provide an x-ray into their sales abilities.
- Do not clone yourself.
Bias can blind people from seeing real talent. Oftentimes we encounter sales leaders who either consciously or unconsciously constructed a team in their own likeness.
Here is why this matters – different styles provide different strengths that can augment an existing team. A team consisting of varied styles, skills and aptitudes will approach a singular problem from different angles. This varied approach provides a broader view of the problem and an opportunity to consider differing solutions.
Weakness occurs when a herd mentality, based on similarity, creates a monolithic solution. This solution may be feasible at that moment, but one thing we are encountering today is disruption. Markets are changing a lightning speed, technologies are shifting major platforms and prospects are more informed than any time in our past.
Your hiring process should embrace sales candidates with unique styles and motivations for your team. This variety will allow you to accurately foresee cataclysmic changes in your marketspace.
- Use hiring situations to see the candidate in action.
Use every contact as a chance to see the candidate incorporate their sales abilities. The similarities between a hiring process and a sales process are remarkable. The sales candidate is attempting to sell his or her abilities to the needs of your sales position. This similarity provides a wonderful opportunity to see the candidates’ sales abilities in person.
Your sales hiring process should begin with a phone screen as most selling still commences through an initial phone call. Phone etiquette still matters. Thought coherence under pressure is crucial in all sales. Personality, humor, articulation…these traits can all be discerned through a relatively short phone screen. Finally, pressure can be placed on the candidate to get your first glimpse of their calmness in a phone qualifying call. The key is to match the pressure that the candidate will face selling for your company.
If your salespeople typically sell to a committee, ensure that you have multiple people in the initial interview with the candidates. This simple move mirrors the selling situation the salesperson will encounter in your sales role. You can observe how they handle multiple questioners, eye contact, different personalities, various power levels and much more. The key through this process is to envision the candidate selling for your company.
- Do not expect to hire perfection.
Even the strongest candidates have some blemishes. Every sales hire requires an understanding of strength areas and potential weaknesses. These areas can be measured through our accurate sales assessments. The key is to understand what areas are “need-to-haves” and what areas are “nice-to-haves.”
There are aspects of a successful sales hire that are always required, including qualifying skills and an ROI motivation. Yet, there can be some give-and-take regarding prospecting skill, presentation skill, communication style and general aptitudes.
It is the rare candidate that perfectly matches your sales position so do not lock down on the eternal search for perfection. You must know the absolute need-to-have abilities and use those as your measuring stick. Besides, waiting for perfection means you may never make a hire.
Install these four pillars into your sales hiring process and you will drastically improve your hiring success. We have the tools and training available to solidify your process. Contact us today if you would like to learn more about turning your sales hiring process into a company-wide strength.