Today’s post is by Brandon Redlinger, who runs growth at PersistIQ. PersistIQ helps sales reps become more effective – with smarter outbound campaigns, better lead management, and more personalized communication. You can read more of his work on the PersistIQ blog or follow him on twitter @brandon_lee_09.
Hiring the right people can be the difference between building a good company and building a great company. Mark Roberge, CRO of HubSpot – who was the first sales hire and responsible for building the entire sales team to what it is today – says, “I felt that, if I could get the right people into the system – even if I did a mediocre job at training and management – they would find a way to win. But, if I got mediocre people in – even if I did a world-class job at training and leading – it wouldn’t matter.” Hiring must be one of your top priorities.
The demand for high performing sales reps is plenty, but the available talent is few and far between. If you don’t make it a priority, you can quickly find yourself behind the 8 ball with a lackluster sales team and significantly limited revenue coming in.
We’ve talked to multiple recruiters, interviewed countless candidates, and built a stellar team, so we’ve built a proven process to help you find the next superstars for your sales teams.
1) Clearly Identify Your Needs for the Role
Assess your team’s abilities and identify what’s missing. What role, if filled, will have the largest impact on your team’s overall performance? If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, how will you know when you’ve found it?
You’re hiring for an immediate need, so screen for and hire the skills that are going to be the most useful over the next 3-6 months. Don’t get hung up on whether a candidate has what it takes to transition into a hypothetical role that might materialize in another year or two. Face those decisions if and when they come. For now, optimize for the KPIs this hire will be responsible for delivering on day one. The market changes incredibly quickly – what you think you’ll need two years from now could be extremely different from what you actually end up needing. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself.
After you identify missing links in your team, examine what characteristics and personal attributes are important for your team. In our experience, the best sales reps exhibit:
- Drive and ambition: They’re internally driven to success, are usually competitive in nature, and do whatever it takes to get the job done (within moral and ethical guidelines, of course).
- Coachability: They’re willing to (and can) listen, learn, and quickly adapt.
- Positivity and optimism: They are resilient and persevere when faced with fear, challenges, and/or rejection.
- Empathy: They understand others’ thoughts, beliefs, and feelings, then act accordingly.
- Curiosity: They’re lifelong learners who constantly need to try new things. They’re always asking questions; after all, that’s largely what they’ll be doing for you as a sales rep.
2) Create a Compelling Job Description
Sell candidates on the position. How can you make your job listing stand out from all the other listings for sales roles? How can you attract the best talent to come work for you? Most job postings are simply a laundry list of duties. What matters most is why they should work for you. Inspire people! If you haven’t seen Simon Sinek’s TED talk titled, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” or read his book Start with Why, invest the time to understand this concept, then apply it to your job posting.
Another mistake is making the job about how much money you can offer. That should be an afterthought. If you’ve determined this candidate is a good fit for you and you’re truly a good fit for this candidate, than compensation shouldn’t be the thing getting in the way of a signed contract. You’ll be able to work it out.
In your job listing, paint a picture of your company culture. Make it about being part of something bigger. Tell them the impact they’ll have on the company and, more importantly, the society. Sell them on working for your company.
3) Act Quickly and Decisively
The first step in the interview process is the phone screening. Limit these to 15 minutes. Make your decision to cut them or move to an in-person interview quickly. Sales professionals need to be able to present themselves extremely well over the phone, so, if they’re not able to sell themselves in this short amount of time, don’t expect them to be able to sell your product or service. On the other hand, if you’ve identified someone who can help your company, move quickly toward an in-person interview, a culture interview, then an offer, or you risk losing that person to a competitor.
Candidates should be doing research on your company, your market position, and any shared connections. After all, you’ll be expecting them to do exactly the same thing – many times over every day on the job. Don’t hire candidates who ask basic questions that could be easily answered by Siri or a two-minute Google search. On the other hand, some salespeople can convince you (and themselves) that they’re the right fit for a role when, in fact, they’re not. Look out for feigned enthusiasm.
4) Keep the Top of the Funnel Full
Just like in prospecting, it’s vital to keep job candidates flowing through your pipeline. Don’t wait to start the hiring process until you need someone – or it will be too late. It always takes more time than you anticipate to find, hire, and ramp employees. And, just because you have a handful of candidates going through your funnel doesn’t mean you should stop putting more in the top, either. Traditionally, sales has had a high turnover rate compared to other professions. Just because a rep was a top performer at another company doesn’t mean he or she will be at yours. There are too many factors that come into play. Secondly, many students fresh out of college will take sales roles but quickly discover it’s not for them.
Always be looking out for top talent. There are many ways to keep candidates in the pipeline, so don’t limit it to any single channel. Manually prospect on LinkedIn for top talent. Utilize a staffing firm like Hired or CloserIQ. Ask your network to make introductions to candidates. Motivate your current employees to refer their friends and colleagues.
Treat hiring like a sales process. To source job candidates, you can even use a lot of the same advanced tools and technologies that reps use for prospecting and selling. We built PersistIQ to help sales reps become more effective at outbound sales, but it’s become own secret weapon for hiring too.
As Jim Collins says, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” There’s only so much you can do on your own, but, with the right people around you, you can do anything.