Not all salespeople are created equal. As a manager or owner, you know your sales performance is highly dependent on the quality of your team. Do they have experience? Do they fit the company culture? Are they trustworthy? Can they be trained? And when you consider that a bad hiring choice could cost you upwards of $800,000, the task of hiring the right people becomes much more harrowing.*
*Smith, Fiona, “The incredible cost of hiring a dud,” Business Review Weekly, July 31, 2012.
“There is something that is much more scarce, something finer, something rarer than ability. It is the ability to recognize ability.” –Elbert Hubbard
7 Must-Haves Before You Hire
Before even penning a job description, you need to have tools in place that will help a sales rep thrive. You hire sales reps to do one thing: sell. They should not be creating your sales collateral, proposal, product offering, etc. It’s your job to have these in place before you can offer them a job. It all starts with you.
Here are 7 things to consider before hiring a sales rep.
1. Training Program
What do sales reps need to know? How can they learn it? And how quickly should they know it? Think of this as your on-boarding program. What should they know at 1 month in, 3 months, or 6 months in? Document resources and locations. Explain how they should be used and in what order they’re best digested. Test your employees along the way. Review progress in weekly 1:1s, and make sure you’re keeping training materials evergreen by asking new employees for input.
2. Product & Service
Offering Sales reps need a defined offering to sell in order to be successful. At the very least, have a spec sheet and talking points in place before adding a sales rep. Make sure you’re able to clearly explain what unique value your products/services bring to the market. Your reps should be able to sell the value of your product rather than just the product itself. Give them the knowledge to do this.
3. Sales Process
Define your desired sales process—every single step from a discovery call to a closed deal should be mapped out. This process can be automated with a CRM platform. How long should the rep wait to follow up with a prospect after leaving a voicemail? Is there an approved quote template they should use? Does a manager need to review the quote before it’s sent to the customer? All these questions should be answered.
Have a call script and a PowerPoint deck available, and invest in tools that will help your sales team deliver a compelling presentation. This will help your new sales rep better understand your offering and give them a great foundation with which to win over prospects
Map out and create templates for each proposal type you think your sales rep will need. They should appear professional, aesthetically pleasing, and include your branding—logo, tagline, design elements, messaging style. You can easily knock out this to-do with a quote and proposal automation solution. If you don’t develop templates, you not only leave your brand image to their discretion, but also create one more task that takes them away from what they do best: sell.
Most sales reps will say just about anything to close a deal. That’s why you should never leave the agreements up to them. They want to sell as much and as fast as they can; they’re not incentivized to worry about what happens after the sale.
7. Money in the Bank
You absolutely must have 4 – 6 months of salary in the bank before you hire a sales rep. Even superstars will need time to ramp up before they start bringing in big bucks. Plan for that.
Once you have these key items, you’re ready to define, post, and start interviewing for your sales job. But as I’m sure you’re aware, you’re not out of the woods yet. Often, selecting the right candidate for your business is the hardest part. And like we mentioned above, a bad hire could end up costing you dearly, so you want to hire the right person the first time. So, now that you know what you need to have ready before you hire, let’s turn our attention to the hiring process itself.
6 Steps to Hiring Your Sales Superstar
1. Define the Role
It’s really hard to find what you’re looking for when you don’t have any parameters. Take the time to go beyond the job description and really think about the day-to-day activities this person will need to perform. Consider what personality type would be best suited for this type of role. What skills and experience will this person need in order to be successful? Once you have a handle on what you’re looking for, you can start to sift through the resumes.
2. Review Job History
Look for a sales focus and longevity at companies. You don’t want someone who switches companies every 6 months. That’s a wasted investment. And on the flip side, don’t overlook employment gaps either. Furthermore, candidates who’ve had experience selling intangible solutions are typically worth at least interviewing because they know how to sell the invisible. In this profession, we’re selling the invisible: the value of our services.
3. Make the First Call Unscheduled
By calling the candidate out of the blue, you’ll be able to see how easily they’re able to adapt, and they won’t be as nervous because they will not have had time to anticipate the call. Use this conversation to break the ice with small talk, and test general knowledge of your company and the industry. This is a favorite technique of ConnectWise’s Worldwide Senior Vice President of Sales Adam Slutskin. If everything checks out, request the candidate’s W2, and send over the DISC assessment.
4. Set up a Face-to-Face & Follow-up Interviews
Assuming you walked away from the initial phone interview with a positive impression, proceed to the face-to-face interview. Because they’ll have time to prep for this interview, it’s okay to break out the tough questions—why you, salary requirements, and strengths and weaknesses.
If everything goes well, bring the candidate back in for your management team to vet. Keep an eye out for red flags, make sure this is someone your team wants to work with, ask for honest second opinions, and ensure the candidate is consistent.
Trust, but Verify. Always ask for a way to verify extraordinary claims like consistently achieving 100% quota, inflated job titles, high level degrees, and obscure certificates.
DISC Profile of a Sales Guy
DISC stands for dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness. It’s a personality test designed to help you identify innate tendencies. Most great sales people score highest in the dominance and influence categories.
5. Tour the Facility
This is your chance to impress them. Highlight all the little perks your facility has to offer, then share a sample commission sheet and paint the picture of how much a successful sales rep can take home. Show them all the tools you’ve invested in to help him or her quickly ramp up and become successful. This should include all the specialized systems you’ve put in place to help standardize and manage workloads. This is the type of information that builds confidence in your company, and makes candidates want to work for you.
6. Conduct the Final Interview Over Lunch
Now, you’re being interviewed, and you have to impress. If you’re trying to recruit a sales superstar away from a cushy job, you need to be sensitive to the fact that they’ve already built a lifestyle for themselves. You need to give them good reason to want to switch.
They’re not going to want to make a minimal base salary while they ramp up and learn your business. Beyond this, be sure to reiterate any other company perks, industry stats, growth potential, or company culture factors that could support their decision to choose to work for you.
8 Hiring Red Flags You Need to Know 1. Incompatible Personality. Find the right personality for your open sales role by administering a Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance (DISC) personality assessment. 2. Unlikeable First Impression Ask yourself:“Would I want this person to represent my company?” 3. Dishonesty Verify all accomplishment claims. If you don’t trust them, don’t hire them. 4. unemployment Look at the facts. Was the candidate a bad employee or simply a victim of circumstance? 5. No Self-Investment This indicates low drive/ performance. Make sure they’re looking for a career, not just a job 6. More Techical than Sales. Review work history and determine natural tendencies. Then ask:“Given the option, would you choose a sales or technical path?” 7. BAD Credir/Background check Bad credit and/or criminal history = poor decision making. 8. HIGH SALARY Asking for a high salary with minimal bonus screams “I’m not a good sales person.”
Hiring the right sales reps doesn’t have to be scary. Avoid costly mistakes by ensuring you have the right resources in place to support a sales rep, and know how to effectively recruit superstar sales champions.
Once you’ve hired your team of quota crushers, you’ll want to give them ample time to ramp up, and then make sure you’re compensating them fairly. In part 2, I’ll share sales compensation best practices.
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