Hiring new salespeople can be challenging in the best of times and darn right scary in the worst. There is a lot riding on getting the right person. The cost of making a mistake is astronomical in both time money and personal anguish.
It doesn’t need to be mystery.
Here are six questions that need to be asked before the process begins to help ensure the right outcome.
1. Are the performance objectives clearly identified?
The reason a salesperson is hired is to satisfy a business need. It may be revenue, it may be margin it may be account management. Whatever the desired result, it needs to be clearly identified. Think about defining success before the person comes on board.
Develop a list of short, medium and long-term results the person needs to deliver to earn the label of success. Knowing the “performance expectations” puts you in a position to clearly define the specific knowledge, skills and abilities the person needs to bring to the job.
2. Are the desired behaviors mapped to your sales process?
A deep understanding of the sales process helps to identify the behaviors necessary for success. Begin by mapping the typical sales process.
Are there multiple steps? How many people are involved? How long does it typically take? What is the profile of the person being sold? How much writing is involved? How many presentations are required?
These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered prior to putting together the profile of the salesperson. The answers to the questions identify the specific behaviors necessary for success. Creating the template of the successful salesperson is straightforward when armed with the performance expectation and the sales process.
3. Has a recruiting strategy including budget and resources been created?
More time, effort and money are wasted on recruiting mostly because there is no plan. It is vital to the success of the business that recruiting is treated like any other strategic business activity. That means there needs to be a plan. There needs to be a budget. Resources need to be allocated and most importantly, results need to be tracked.
Who is going to do the work? Will it be done in house? How much money is budgeted for the recruiting? What sources will be used to attract candidates? What is our Unique Hiring Proposition (why should someone work for us)?
Every step of the process should show a positive ROI. Like any other investment, evaluate the variables and decide on the best course of action whether using a recruiting service, posting ads or working your own network.
4. Is the selection process defined?
A sloppy approach to selecting salespeople leads to poor results. Use a proven selection process to get the best results.
Start with a system to screen candidates. This allows you to spend time with those people who have the highest probability of being successful on your job. This may include phone screens, phone interviews and possibly the use of an assessment tool.
Next, have a proven interview system. The “I’ll know it when I see it” model is guaranteed to result in failure. Use a system designed to predict success. A behavioral interview system like Selecting Winners helps get the right data that predicts success.
5. Is there an evaluation and decision criteria?
Don’t leave the hiring decision to chance. Don’t rely on your gut-feel to make the decision. The first two steps above resulted in a profile of the target person that includes both the performance expectations and the necessary skills and behaviors.
In step 4 a proven interview system was used to get specific data that helps predict success. The last step is to map the person’s skills and behaviors to the success criteria. This sounds simple and obvious. However, this is where gut-feel and impressions often lead down the wrong path.
Of course creating a good first impression is important but it is not predictive of success on the job. Enthusiasm is important but once again is not predictive of success. It is very easy to be swayed during the interview by factors that are not the best predictors of success.
Past behavior is a much better predictor than interview behavior. Everyone is going to be on his or her best behavior during the interview. But the use of a thorough interview process results in large quantities of data when the focus is past behavior.
Rather than making decisions based on a few impressions, the goal needs to be to gather as much factual data as possible.
6. Is the table set for the new salesperson to succeed?
The first step in success is bringing the right salesperson on board. The second step is to make certain the person has the tools necessary to be successful. What resources will the salesperson need to succeed?
Is product training needed? Is specialized sale training required? Will the new person need a mentor? These are some of the questions requiring answers. The way to get the best return on the investment in the new salesperson is to give the person the tools required to succeed.
Hiring new salespeople can be a great investment. Be certain to view the process like any other strategic business process. Apply the right resources, use the right tools and the return on the investment can be tremendous.