Sales Recruitment Success – How To Build A Great Team That Delivers Great Results
Nearly 67% of salespeople who fail could have succeeded in a sales role that matched their skills.
When a new salesperson fails, 91% of the time is was for bad attitude and only 9% for lack of skill.
Every business benefits from hiring top performing sales talent but most businesses struggle to develop even mediocre sales teams.
Based on my 30 years as a Sales Recruiter, I know it comes down to doing about half a dozen things right in the sales recruitment process. This is sometimes called ‘The Law of the Few’. In other words, getting just a few things right can go a long way to developing a sales team that will significantly grow your business. Here is my list!
1) Hire The Best
The best salespeople are rarely unemployed and will usually want to work for the biggest, best companies in their industry. That being said, most everyone likes to be chased. Identify, target and recruit the best in your industry – that is the first place to start. You should make a point to know the best performing salespeople in your industry.
Build relationships with the best and when the time is right ask what they would need to make a change and move to your company. Attracting the best staff is just like attracting the best customers you need to have a pipeline of prospects and leads that you can regularly close. A good salesperson has a large pipeline of prospective clients. A good sales manager has a talent pipeline. As a recruiter my clients are looking to tap into my talent pipeline – that’s the value I provide. LinkedIn is a great place to initiate and cultivate relationships with your industry’s top performers and future sales stars. Trade shows and conferences are also a great place to build connections. Who are the top three companies in your industry and who are the salespeople that made that happen?
Hiring top talent from your industry ensures you that the new hire will perform well right from day one. You may pay more for experienced, industry talent but consider the opportunity costs of not having the best. Also, every top salesperson you hire away from a competitor represents an increased competitive advantage.
Don’t think you are saving money by hiring junior, inexperienced salespeople. Chances are they will be mediocre at best! Why waste your time? The very best salespeople in every industry generally earn 10, 15, even 50 times the income of average salespeople. These are the stars that can truly build a business. Find a star for your business and everything can change! Remember stars are rarely a bargain – quality never is cheap!
Think you’re going to hiring juniors and train them? You won’t – almost nobody does. Also, training invested in top salespeople is a much better investment!
2) Warning! Be Careful of Top Performers
Hiring top performing salespeople from within your industry can transform your business but be careful to understand why they were successful. Sometimes a salesperson may have been dramatically successful because the company’s products were leading the field. Companies like Apple are an extreme example of company growth lead through product development. Do your research and ask the tough questions.
3) Never, ever, hire unemployed salespeople
This may sound unfair but if a salesperson cannot sell themselves how can they sell your company? When I worked as a salesperson I was always in the top 2% of performers – I was regularly offered jobs by the competition’s sales manager or by my customers. When I wanted to make a change I simply picked up the telephone, called two or three contacts within my industry and within a few days had a handful of offers.
I never applied for random jobs. I always knew my next move well ahead of time. A good salesperson knows their industry and has built solid relationships. A good salesperson is regularly being offered jobs by competitors and customers. Why would you hire a salesperson that doesn’t know how to sell themselves first? Look closely and you will find the majority of unemployed salespeople are toxic at some level.
4) Know What, and Who, You Can Afford – Be Realistic
We all want the very best but the reality is that, depending on our situation, we might end up with a Toyota rather than a Rolls Royce. Hiring is the very same, we can only expect the best for our situation. If we are not the market leader chances are that we will not attract the proven industry sales leaders. That being said, we can still hire quality salespeople with tremendous motivation and support them toward success.
5) Hire Attitude – Attitude Trumps Skill
Salespeople are not born. Sure, some salespeople have developed the skills required to sell earlier than others but everyone can learn to sell. Selling is a skill that is made of hundreds and even thousands of individual traits and abilities but success in selling comes ultimately from one thing – drive! Great skills and low drive will generate mediocre to moderate results. Poor skills and amazing drive will get good results. Great skills and high drive and you have a Rainmaker! Skills can be learned but attitude cannot. Hire for attitude and train!
6) Don’t Rush, But Act Quickly
It is easy when hiring to set false deadlines and feel a need to hire out of the first group. This is a mistake and the investment in search time can be easily made up with the right hire. Hiring mediocre salespeople could represent years of opportunity lost!
Develop a hiring process that allows you to hire as quickly as possible. This doesn’t mean rush, but when you do find a great person don’t drag out the interview process. Know what you want so that you can hire in one or two interviews – at the most. Schedule interviews as close together as possible and have offer letters and job descriptions at the ready!
7) Don’t Lose Talent
Too many businesses make a fundamental mistake in managing salespeople. Almost from the moment a salesperson is hired managers take on an adversarial approach. It is almost as if management is thinking, ‘I bet you’re not as could as you want us to believe. Let’s watch this hotshot fail!’
Most salespeople are thrown into the deep end with little or no support or training and then left to fail – big mistake! You have invested in hiring these people why not make sure they cannot fail? Invest in a great welcome. Provide the tools, the training and support they need to ensure success. Most salespeople don’t fail because they are incompetent – if they were what does that say about your recruitment skills? No, most salespeople fail because they lose heart!
Sales recruitment is one of the most challenging areas of business development because there is no aptitude test, no psychometric analysis, and no intelligence test that can truly measure ‘heart’! Hire salespeople with ‘heart’, ‘drive’, ‘moxie’ and you will be well on your way to developing an amazingly successful sales team.