How do you make sure you hire the best sales professionals? How can you make sure you hire the best person for your sales team? A bad hire can cost your business millions of dollars. This is not only lost potential revenue, but also lost opportunities that you won’t see because the person you hire won’t be unable to get access to the right people.
Different skills are required for a business development manager and an account executive. The same person who is extremely successful selling for a large organization may struggle when put into an early stage business. So how do you make sure you hire the right person? I use a three step process when recruiting sales professionals for my teams or my clients’ organizations.
The first step in hiring great sales professionals is to identify what strengths your best sales people have. Take some time to consider what your best sales professionals have in common. Try to come up with a list of between three to five strengths. For example, you might list they are good at prospecting or getting in the door. They might be strong presenters or negotiators. Take time to think why they excel at the job.
Once you’ve identified these strengths, come up with several questions to ask in the interview to find out if the person you’re talking with has a similar set of skills. Don’t just ask about the skill, but ask for a recent example of when they used these skills. Then ask additional follow up questions from what you learn.
The second step in hiring great sales professionals is to ask how these skills apply in their current role and how it’s changed over time. For example, prospecting is changing and evolving in today’s connected world. It’s critical to find out what resources sales professionals have available in their different positions. Larger organizations frequently have people that do the initial call so account managers can spend their time with qualified prospects.
Smaller organizations many times won’t invest in resources that can help sales professionals to identify the best clients and people who work in their target markets. They expect sales professionals to bring their clients with them. How much do you would you invest to make your new sales professional more successful?
I’ve found that many larger companies pay for LinkedIn Sales Navigator or Hoovers, but never invest the time in helping the sales professionals learn how to use them effectively. The same happens with sales training. Ask sales professionals what sales training they have received in the past 24 months. You can also ask them who paid for it. You now know how motivated the person you’re talking with is.
The third step in hiring great sales professionals is to know what you expect of your sales professionals. In the past, you might be able to make up in volume of calls what you lack in skills. I’ve had several roles like this in the past and it can be a painful experience for all involved. In today’s busy world, every call must be maximized if you hope to obtain your revenue goals.
The increasing use of voicemail and email requires your sales professionals to have a good understanding of marketing and client nurturing processes if they hope to achieve their sales goals. Many of your best clients may not feel compelled to talk with you until they are well along in their buying process.
Many times, midmarket and larger organization have individuals committed to both inbound and demand generation. Do you? This might also impact your new sales professionals’ early results. It’s up to you to know what their best skills are and how to maximize their impact on clients.
Finally, ask your potential sales professionals to put together a marketing plan for their territory. You can provide the format or allow them to come up with their own strategy. You may be surprised what you get when you ask for this. You can get many interesting insights into the person and how they would do the job before you extend them an offer.
A warning here: Make sure you are building a strong relationship with your potential sales team members. Most great sales professionals don’t need your job. The best sales professionals are actively pursued by many employers at the same time. Great sales leaders understand when and how to build stronger relationships throughout the hiring process. We will explore this in a future blog.
To be successful you will need to sell them on why they should be willing to do this for you before you hire them. I advise my clients to tell them you want to make sure they are going to succeed in the job. You want to see how they see the market and where opportunities might exist with their target markets. You should ask questions about the plan. Make sure you read it or you may lose your best sales professionals. No successful sales professionals want to invest time and then get a limited response from their future boss. This is a great opportunity to display your coaching skills with your potential new hire.
When they present their market plan to you, watch how they present their ideas. You should consider if there is a good match between what they share and how your customers buy. If a person is used to selling to high level leaders, she might present one way. Working with department managers might require a different set of skills.
This is changing and how you used to do presentations may need to be updated. This is a great opportunity to better understand your sales representatives’ presentation capabilities and add additional leadership capabilities to your sales team.
Next Tuesday, I will be writing about a topic that over 90% of my clients have asked about over the past 90 days. I will talking about the convergence of marketing and technology. See you Tuesday.