Every organization wants its sales team to be successful. After all, great salespeople make everyone look good. When your sales team is closing opportunities and exceeding quota, it is likely because you’ve filled the positions with motivated and passionate professionals that are the best at what they do. You will no longer need to spend all your time on performance discussions and meetings about why your reps are not hitting their goals.
So why is hiring great salespeople so frustrating? Why aren’t “great” sales hires able to get to the right decision makers or close on leads given to them?
The reason most companies are asking themselves these questions is because recruiting is not a top priority and they lack a strategic recruiting process. Without one, companies are becoming increasingly vulnerable to hiring candidates simply based on interview skills, experience and knowledge, only to discover the new hires lack commitment and motivation for sales success. Ultimately, without a process approach, the results are new hires that become a financial and emotional burden on your management team and your entire sales organization.
There are no shortcuts for recruiting star salespeople. But, a strong and well-thought out recruiting process will help a company build a more prolific approach to finding, filtering and hiring the right candidates. Below are 7 process components that will help you get started:
- KNOW YOUR MARKET – determine where your best hires are located. Look beyond the competition and the short list of companies you typically draw from. Expand your horizons to other similar industries they may be working in? What associations do they belong to? What LinkedIn groups do they participate in? Once you have this info, you can connect with salespeople, join those associations and get involved in the online groups to see your candidates in action.
- CREATE A WELL-DEFINED JOB PROFILE – Beyond the experience, what are the non-negotiable competencies, traits and skills a salesperson MUST have to be successful at your company? Do they need to be fearless, engaging and coachable? Do they need to be rejection proof and financially motivated? Does a candidate need to be experienced at selling virtually and using social media tools? Do they need to be great at reaching decision makers and discussing money?
- SCOUT – Match and mirror the actions of scouts that work for professional sports teams. They attend competitor’s games, scouting for great talent by observing the players in action. We need to apply this same approach to recruiting salespeople. Hunt for salespeople and watch them in action at network events and trade shows. The best way to determine if a salesperson has the critical skills and core competencies is to watch them sell. Even in a virtual selling environment, are they active on social selling platforms like LinkedIn?
- INTERVIEW – Avoid the scenario where their best sales call is on you in the interview. When selling themselves, everyone is a self-described master hunter and an amazing closer. Interrogate reality by performing role plays. For example, have them do a mock cold call and get past you as a gatekeeper. Role play a decision maker, to observe their approach with you on a first call. Ask them to send you info or throw an objection at them and listen to their response. If one of your must-haves is coachability, then offer them some constructive criticism on the role play to see how they handle the feedback. Most of all, ask them what questions they have for you and make note of whether they precall plan. Ask what they thought of your website or some key data points they may have picked up from researching you company on the web. The interview is the ultimate place to test their critical planning skills.
- PROOF STEP – Create a proof step. All too often, and out of desperation, we take the best available candidates that interview well, but do not ask them to prove themselves the way most prospects do before signing a contract. This measure goes beyond references. You could ask candidates to draft a light 30/60/90 plan, prepare a 2-3 slide presentation, or a have a mock video conference call with multiple stakeholders in your company. An interesting approach is to throw this in unexpectedly at the end to see how the candidate performs and reacts on their toes.
- CLOSE THE CANDIDATE – provide a career path in addition to discussing dollars. Lay out a growth plan for them to advance their career. One of the biggest issues people are facing these days is losing a candidate at the last minute. Do not lose them at the altar. Ensure you lay out a success path for them or someone else will.
- ONBOARD – create an onboarding project plan that outlines the expectations of the first 30-60-90 days. This can include everything from HR related items to CRM to sales training. Make sure to review this plan with the new hire to ensure alignment.
Imagine your organization with top performing salespeople winning the bigger and better, more profitable customers. This is achievable if you start sourcing with the right recruiting strategy, one that covers every stage of the hiring process. With the increasingly competitive hiring landscape, it’s important your organization attracts the talent you need. Creating a successful sales team does take work, but in the end, the time and effort you invest in creating a recruiting strategy will pay off exponentially.