Fail-Proof Hiring For Sales Leaders
Employee mis-hires are painful in every sense of the word. The time, money and effort spent on their recruitment, development and management often leave us at an overall net loss. They neither stay long enough or work hard enough at the company to contribute a value equal to or more than our investment in them. When they quit or are laid off, we can do nothing but watch our Return on Investment (ROI) flush down the drain.
The monetary cost of employee mis-hires may be more than you think. A bad front-line sales hire can cost your company anywhere from 3-6 times their annual salary. Yet this only accounts for financially quantifiable losses – like hiring, compensation, maintenance, severance, disruption and opportunity costs.
Bad hires hurt and damage the morale and productivity of your company. Superstar employees are left to carry their weight and become overworked, co-workers turn discontented and may quit out of the frustration, and workplace culture struggles to stay healthy and flourish.
As the common saying goes, a bad apple spoils the bunch. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a bad hire. You can always look for a temporary replacement or other alternative band-aid solutions if you absolutely need to. Hiring the right salespeople for your team is undoubtedly of paramount importance, never settle for someone who you believe isn’t a good fit.
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of this article, I would like to invite you to check out “Episode 20 – The Business of Family and Selling Podcast”. Starting from [20:40] of the episode, our guest speaker Pat Helmers shares his insights with Brendan on the topic. How he effectively hires salespeople and what qualities he looks for when hiring them.
Pat Helmers is a business consultant. He helps businesses:- Find prospects that ache for their products,- Convert those prospects into clients,- Scale up that process for phenomenal growth. He is also the host a podcast called Sales Babble. A shoe that shares selling secrets for non-sellers.Especially on the topics of: – Lead generation, – Business development, – Closing, – Hiring- Developing and managing sales professionals.
Posted by Start In Phx on Thursday, August 17, 2017
When he’s away from the mic, you can find him unlocking growth opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs in the areas of lead generation, business development, closing, hiring, and the training and management of sales professionals as an international business consultant.
Pat believes that if you can land the right hire, you’re bound to enjoy a huge ROI because you’ve essentially obtained someone who “can do 10 times the work of another (ordinary) person”. With that said, here are the tips and tricks from the podcast that touches on how to hire the right salespeople.
Be Clear About Who You’re Looking for and Stick to It
To check your candidates for their role-specific attributes and behavioral-specific traits, you’ll need to identify salespeople – preferably within your company – who you would deem ideal and use them as a reference. If not, you have probably got a rough idea of your ideal candidate – the required skills and credentials she would possess, and the kind of virtues and characteristics she would embody.
We will use those elements to categorize your candidates into 3 groups – A players, B players and C players – by scoring them against your chosen attributes. This is a hiring concept borrowed from Topgrading by Brad Smart.
These are your top of the line salespeople you want to snap up immediately and keep in your company. They are individuals whose performance and presence strengthen your business and accelerate its growth. These are the talents you want to nurture so be sure to invest in their development, and keep them happy and engaged.
These are your middle-of-the-pack sales staff. They aren’t quite in the league of your A players but they show promise for potential and growth. Given the right support and backing, they could get there with time.
Simply put, these are the people you don’t want to hire and the people you don’t need. They don’t possess the skills and qualities you seek and will serve to push your company in a different direction.
Scorecard For Hiring Salespeople
With your references in mind, we can do up a scorecard for the role-specific attributes. The scorecard should detail the attributes and credentials you look for in a salesperson. These can be qualities like emotional intelligence (EQ), persuasion skills and negotiation skills. The hard skills you would expect your sales employees to possess.
This allows you to grade and rank your sales candidates in a fair and objective manner and give yourself a clearer picture of which candidates lead the group in the technical arena.
As for the behavioral traits, it really comes down to what you want and what your situation calls for but Pat has an excellent set of 3 that he sticks to.
Great Salespeople Are Competitive
Are they ambitious? Are they hungry for growth? Are they here to succeed in the job or merely here for the paycheck?
Pat loves a competitive salesperson because they bring in the heat by striving to be better and better every single day. They are the employees whose goals are to achieve more and they will grow together with your company.
It can be easy to display enthusiasm and eagerness in an interview and claim to an interviewer that they have the drive and motivation to climb the ladder of success so; try asking them about the self-development activities they engage in.
Do they read books, listen to podcasts or enroll in online courses? If they don’t have a habit of upgrading themselves, can they really claim to possess the hunger for growth and have the inner fire for success?
Great Salespeople Are Empathetic
Are the potential hires empathetic to the people around them? Are they helpful and respectful to people they meet? Are they mindful of others’ opinions and feelings or have no one else but themselves in mind?
An empathetic salesperson listens to and understands the problems of clients and work to genuinely solve their problems. They work well in a team and are receptive to lending a helping hand whenever someone is in need of it.
Empathy may be difficult to test for but what you can pay attention to is the way they phrase their experiences. When they bring another person into their story, try to gauge the extent to which they alter their behavior and actions to factor the perspectives and feelings of that other person.
Great Salespeople Are Tenacious
Are they resistant to failures? Are they committed to their goals? Do they stay true to promises and push past adversity?
Pat mentioned that he had hired plenty of moms and time and time again, they have proved to be a tenacious breed. They always “follow up, follow up, follow up” and that is an indispensable trait in the field of sales.
Put a little resistance into your hiring process. Don’t make it too easy for your sales candidates to progress into the interviewing stage. This way, you can preemptively eliminate the weak-willed candidates as well as the rest of the C players.
We’ll go deeper in this next section as we touch on your sales hiring process.
Refine Your Hiring Process, Continuously
As we thread along the increasingly volatile climate we operate our businesses in today, our organizational objectives are ever-evolving, our business environment is constantly changing and work trends will shift. Similarly, our hiring processes need to change over time to match the status quo.
An efficient means of improving your process would be to model or take inspiration from tested and proven methods of other established organizations. Below are a couple of Pat’s best practices and an outline of his hiring process:
Filter the Good from the Bad
Avoid a shallow hiring process. You want to develop multiple layers or stages for candidates to work their way through so that by the end of it, you will be left with a saturated pool of promising hires to pick from.
Build your filters according to your goals and requirements. When you apply this resistance to your hiring process, you automatically weed out the people you would consider C players. This frees up more time for those that actually matter and you can use this time on a deeper hiring process.
Take Your Time, Don’t Rush the Process
Although quickly coming to a decision can address your short-term problems, they can also plague you with long-term ones. Don’t settle for a candidate until you are certain of the value she can provide and the potential she can grow into.
Take your time to get to know them. If they can’t commit to your process, they probably aren’t the right fit for you. This principle works hand-in-hand with incorporating more layers into your hiring process and gives you the confidence and assurance you need before moving further.
Pat’s Process for Hiring Top Performing Salespeople
- Place an ad on a free/cheap channel (e.g. Craigslists, ZipRecruiter, etc.) with clear descriptions on what he expects. Sifts through cover letters and resumes to identify possible candidates.
- Email possible candidates to say why he thinks they may be a match and requests they call him. Disqualifies applicants who fail to call him (e.g. sends him an email to schedule for a convenient time to call) as he’s looking for a “fearless” salesperson.
- Conduct a phone interview with candidate to learn more about who they are, how they think, and why they want the job. Look for signs of ideal salesperson (e.g. parsimonious thinking, high EQ, communicates clearly).
- Email a homework assignment to further assess their level of knowledge, approach towards sales, and seriousness for the job. Eliminates candidates with bad answers, bad grammar and a lack of urgency – they don’t submit the assignment within the deadline.
- Walkthrough the answers to homework assignment with candidates for a deeper understanding of their rationale and shares feedback with them. Observe how the candidates react to disagreements on their answers and how they respond to substantiate themselves.
- Sell the candidates on the company, the team, and their culture. Establish mutual interest as candidates must not only want the job but want to work in his company.
- Invite candidate to lunch for an interview. At this point the job is there’s to lose, but the relaxed setting of chatting over a meal rather than in your office gives candidates the room they need to show their true colors.
At The End of The Day
You have to consistently stay involved in your hiring process and seek to constantly measure, analyze and refine it. Learn to adapt to your unique circumstances, experiment with new ideas and imitate successful models to develop a system that can cater to your objectives.
As a final take away from the podcast, “It’s not what people say in life, it’s what they do that matters”. Don’t take what people say at face value, make sure they deliver and prove it to you.
About The Author of This Article: George Eliot is a passionate learner of all things learnable, always looking to try new things and has active interests in entrepreneurship, psychology and technology.
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