Updated: Nov 22, 2020
Gut feel is not a recruitment strategy. Yet, most organizations still rely on emotional factors to make these critical hiring decisions. It’s a hit and (mostly) miss strategy, and it can severely impact a company’s ability to grow.
Onboarding an ineffective salesperson is not going to help you hit your growth targets. However, a solid sales recruitment strategy will.
Here are 5 things most companies fail to do correctly hiring sales people and how they can fix them.
5 ways to recruit the right salespeople
If you’re looking to revamp your recruitment strategy, these are the must-have elements you should include:
1. Identify the profile of salesperson
Do you need an account manager, a farmer or a hunter?
Get clear on the type of salesperson you are looking for. This will relate back to your sales plan. Having a solid sales plan will mean that when it’s time to recruit, you know exactly what capabilities candidates need to have, as well as the capabilities your team needs to maintain and grow its sales.
Also, get clear on the markets they are selling to. Do they call on CEOs, managers, technicians, or admins?
Are they selling in a competitive market or are you the only game in town?
Does your business sell a conceptual service or a product that you can demo?
Is it a long, complex process or fast-paced & transactional?
Will candidates be expected to sell on value or price?
These are just some examples of what you need to be clear on. Lastly, don’t forget to check that your candidates have experience in the areas you need!
2. Make it a process, not an event
Sales recruitment is not a one-off event, you will always have to hire new people from time to time. Where many sales managers go wrong is not making it an ongoing process.
Best practice suggests you should be recruiting all the time. That doesn’t mean you have to hire all the time, but you should be always networking, looking for salespeople who will fit into your culture and have the capabilities your business needs.
“You need to build a solid candidate bench and have a goal of always be upgrading your team.”
3. Use pre-hire assessments
If you want to hire the right sales rep, start with science & objective data. It is the key to making good, strategic hiring decisions. Not all salespeople or roles are the same. Science is the first step to assessing whether a candidate suits the type of sales role your company needs.
It comes back to your sales analysis. When you assess & evaluate your team, you know what best practice looks like. You know the benchmarks and what skills or deficiencies your team has to have to be successful selling your products & services.
To succeed in sales, candidates need the right mindset & skill set. These "mental toughness" attributes often are not apparent at the first meeting, and most sales managers miss identifying these.
That’s where a pre-hire assessment comes in—it removes the guesswork. A pre-hire assessment tests for the essential psychological traits that candidates need if they are to succeed in the new role.
The willingness to perform the uncomfortable sales activities is what separates successful sales people from their peers that struggle. Salespeople with a strong mindset will do whatever it takes to be successful. If this willingness to sell is missing in your new hire, achieving a reasonable ramp-up time is seriously compromised.
4. Qualify candidates according to sales process and target market
Look for candidates who have experience selling in a target market similar to yours, along with those who have used a sales process that matches yours.
You’re looking for sales people who can execute on your process, or the part of the process you’re hiring them for. A common mistake sales managers make is they see that a candidate was the top rep at Company ABC and hire them based on this criteria alone.
What happens when your company uses a different sales methodology and process & the candidate’s skills aren’t compatible? You got it, a lot of unmet expectations from both parties.
Tip: Ask behavioral-based questions in your interviews
Use behavior-based questions to encourage a candidate to demonstrate their experience in using a similar sales process to yours, what they did to achieve results previously, and how they define success.
Interview questions should include:
“How did you bring on a new client?”
“What was the most successful client you brought onboard and how did you do it?"
“Tell me a time where your sales were in a slump and how did you come out of it.”
“Tell me how you dealt with a client that pushed back on something they didn’t want—how did you handle that?”
Lastly, don’t forget to validate what candidates tell you. As the saying goes, salespeople do their best selling at the interview!
5. Set up a 90-day onboarding process
Do you have a plan for when a new recruit joins you? How do you contribute to their success in the first 90 days? Not having an onboarding process includes teaching the new hire your sales strategy & processes can be just as damaging as hiring the wrong person.
Giving new hires the keys and saying: ‘You’re a salesperson now. If you don’t hit your targets in 90 days, you’re gone. Good luck.’—that’s setting them up for failure. Instead, look at how you can set them up to succeed. That’s what good leaders and a good manager would do.
Thanks for reading, here's a complimentary recruiting guide to help you get started hiring top performers that will help you scale & grow your business profitably! Free Recruiting Guide
Frank Niekamp is a High Performance Sales Coach with SalesStar and an accomplished B2B sales producer & leader. Frank's vision is that top performing sales team's all have exceptional commitment, trust, and selflessness as their core values.
p.s. If this is something you would like to have a conversation about & you're open to share your top priorities for future success with us, book a complimentary 30 minute strategy session with Frank here. Book Meeting.