Hiring the perfect candidates for sales jobs can make or break your company. The sales industry is known for having a high turnover rate.
It’s hard to find good salespeople – and it’s even more difficult to keep them around.
“Getting top-level candidates interested to work at your business is actually a sales job,” said Batsheva Chase, vice president of sales recruiting at Peak Performers Inc. in Santa Monica, Calif. “In recruiting, you truly are selling an organization and getting candidates to buy into the idea that they want to work there.”
Whether you are a sales leader in a multinational, mid-market, or late-stage company, you have likely experience the challenges associated with building a high-performance sales team. The most important and most difficult part of the process is recruiting “Top Performers”. Identifying and separating top salespeople from average – and below-average sellers – and further assessing them to ensure they possess the unique mix of skills.
The key to successful sales recruiting comes down to an organization’s ability to follow these six key recruiting principles.
1. Identify and Define the Right Talent Profile
Successful sales leaders increase the probability of recruiting a top performer by determining if they have the right sales organization structure and selling roles to support the work that is needed to execute their strategy.
2. Define the Right DNA for Each Sales Roles
With the talent profile criteria as a guide, you know which candidates to target, but can you and them? With your sales structure and roles defined, it’s time to identify what predicts success for each role. You do that by emphasizing the qualities that the best candidates want from prospective employers. These include:
- A strong compensation and benefits package that is above market value
- Earning potential that is “un-capped,” where candidates have the ability to exceed their financial objectives, as well as evidence that other members of the sales force are doing the same
- A structured onboarding process that sets candidates up for success and reduces ramp-up time
- A pro-sales culture and positive corporate environment
3. Understand the Competencies and Capacity of your Current Sales Team
The best way for executives to lessen their hiring risk and enhance their ability to hire a top performer in by embracing a comprehensive candidate assessment process that removes subjectivity and biases, and evaluates al candidates with the same scoring criteria. In order to develop strategies to optimize your talent, you’ll want to determine the strengths and gaps within your existing sales team.
- Performing multiple candidate interviews with a consistent set of interviewers, using the same set of questions
- Integrating behavioral-based interviewing questions that focus on what the candidate has done in comparable sales environments
- Conducting role-playing assessments that test how a candidate would present your offering, and how they would respond to your prospects’ most common and challenging objections
- Using third-party testing, such as psychometric assessments, to provide insights into what motivates a candidate and the type of environment he or she is most likely to excel in
- Performing thorough background and reference checks
4. Build Sales-Centered Talent Management Processes and Tools
It has a huge impact on the ways a sales organization selects, trains, and supports and also on overall customer experience and success. With a consistent set of processes is essential for managing your talent. As a sales leader, you need to drive efforts to ensure you get the outcomes you are looking for. We call this a “sale-centered” approach. Partner with others (HR, OD, Recruiting) to ensure that you:
- Follow a rigorous, consistent process for hiring sales talent
- Establish clear performance expectations & metrics
- Create processes to help sales managers observe, coach, and develop their teams
- Identify and develop internal talent for future needs
5. Train your Frontline Sales Manager
Once a candidate receives and accepts a job offer, sales leaders and their partners in HR must put him or her through a comprehensive onboarding program. This will develop a foundation for the new hire’s short- and long-term development. A sales manager’s number one priority is to create a sales team that is as talented as they are. Leaders proactively train their sales managers in the skills of managing and developing their teams. Sales managers need training to effectively:
- Recruit, Interview, and Hire
- Communicate Performance Expectations
- Hold Others Accountable
- Provide Feedback & Coaching
- Diagnose Performance Issues
- Confront Poor Performance
- Grow & Develop Top Talent
6. Create a Coaching Playbook for Sales Manager
A coaching playbook helps you simplify the process of talent management and know you are executing the right things at the right time. With a simple and consumable toolkit is essential for getting your busy sales managers to spend time on coaching and other talent management tasks.
“If you can find good people, they can always change the product/service. Nearly every mistake I’ve made has been in picking the wrong people, not the wrong idea.”
Selecting sales personnel is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, a challenge for any organization. It takes effort to build a recruiting process, and even more to ensure that everyone follows the plan. But the result — the creation of a winning sales team — is guaranteed to make life less stressful for any sales leader.