Today’s post is by Chad Bronstein, founder and CEO of Time to Hire.
As the leader of a sales organization, you’ve seen it a million times before. You recruit, hire, and train a candidate that fit the ideal model you had for the perfect salesperson – only to find they can’t meet minimum expectations or aren’t a cultural fit, forcing you to part ways.
It’s an easy loop to fall into once the first few candidates don’t work out and you become increasingly desperate to fill open sales positions. Not only can this take a toll on you as the sales leader, but can also negatively affect client relationships and company performance.
Common Hiring Pitfalls
Salespeople tend to be bright, outgoing, and best at selling themselves. As such, many sales leaders and business owners tend to pick the one who seems “shiniest,” even though it may turn out that person is a terrible fit for their organization. Moreover, most businesses hire only when the need arises, resulting in a hiring process that is not designed to hire the best, only the best available.
For companies that utilize commission-based or salary-plus-commission pay structures, there is a solution – hire multiple salespeople for the same position and have them “compete” for the job. With no long-term or high-dollar payroll commitment – other than earned commissions or small base salaries – hire as many as you can handle. Train them all at once, see how their different attributes and experience work in your organization, and keep only those who make the cut.
This may seem overly Darwinian and unfair, but that’s the paradigm in the sales arena: kill or be killed, sell or be fired. The key is to set expectations up front and provide clear metrics and goals in order to keep the position:
- How long will the trial/competition period last?
- How many new clients need to be signed or how much business needs be closed?
- How many calls need to be made or how many appointments need to be set?
- Who will manage and train the employees? Can you provide mentors and will you incent them to help?
- What happens if everyone hits their goals?
This fosters an environment with no surprises and a culture where the most competitive and motivated salespeople will “win.” It should also provide a steady stream of high-performing salespeople and help establish a culture of competitiveness within the organization from the ground up. Indeed, a recent study by TechnologyAdvice found that 55 percent of salespeople prefer to work in a competitive environment – with 30.5 percent hoping for a very competitive workplace.
The Link between Competition and Quota Attainment
Moreover, a report from Aberdeen Group found that companies do better on their quotas when there is competition: 85 percent of reps attain their quota and 51 percent of new hires achieve their numbers in their first year. On the other hand, in the absence of competition, only 78 percent of reps make quota and only 42 percent of new hires meet their numbers.
To further entrench a competitive culture within the organization, you should also provide ongoing incentives and recognition programs. This can be anything – weekly competitions on who brings in the most new customers, annual competitions on who sells the biggest deal, special competitions for a coveted territory that is finally opening up, and more.
Companies we know who’ve taken a position competition approach are better at finding and retaining salespeople who perform better. Employees who’ve competed and earned their positions take extra ownership in the business, stay with the company longer, and are more interested in moving into management positions – helping grow and shape future employees into additional high-performing salespeople.