If you read the papers or lead a sales team for a few days, you will see that changes continue to occur each day in our business and for the customers we serve. Technology seems to move the world at an accelerated pace. Customers demand quality and timeliness. And, more customers know more about what they buy, because the knowledge is instantly available through the internet and on their phones.
Competition doesn’t rest, and new sources of it seem to appear in unlikely places. It’s hard enough for us to keep up, much less bring someone else along, especially someone we have to drag along. 50% of new sales recruits last six months. Managing effectively depends on our ability to hire effectively.
In all this competition and change, great sales coaches, managers, and leaders sometimes get away with less than the best. And, mediocre coaches win lots of games with great players—the one thing they do well is recruit.
5 Process Areas for Great Recruiting
There are five process areas in a best practice recruitment system—one that is scientifically-based and customized to a sales position within a company and a market.
- Design a psychometric description of what it takes for someone to perform well.
- Discover how to produce the best candidate pool—one that has high quality and potential interest from its members for your company’s sales position.
- Follow step-by-step methods to screen candidates, exit them from the recruiting system, and to eliminate wasted time for the candidate and yourself.
- Use general mental ability and personality assessments to evaluate and provide objective comparisons to best performing salespeople.
- Conduct reference checking and multiple structured interviews by more than one person to reduce the effects of impression management by the candidate and to evaluate their conscientiousness, character and motivational levels.
The First Question That Will Help You Hire the Best Salespeople
So, here’s the first question, and it’s answer will help you hire the best salespeople: What is the Psychometric Description of the Character Traits, Attitudes, Motivation, Personality and Skills for your sales position—one that best describes what it takes to sell what you sell, at a certain level and in a specific way? It’s also a trait description of a person who will best fit your sales and company culture.
Many sales managers, recruiters, small business owners, and entrepreneurs select candidates without knowing the specific traits to recruit for. They do not know the Character Qualities, Attitudes, Motivations, Personality Traits, and Skills uniquely necessary for the sales role or for a person to fit in with and enjoy the company’s culture. The trait factors within these five psychometric dimensions and the required cognitive ability to handle the necessary math, verbal skills, and problem-solving vary between sales teams in different organizations and markets.
For example, research tells us that 20-25% of employed sales reps can sell, but they should be selling something else. They may be able to sell wireless devices in a retail environment, but they will struggle selling insurance through cold-calling and approaching people they do not know. The salesperson may be comfortable explaining a window’s design and construction, but they have anxiety attempting to create and present a customized financial plan or demonstrate a wireless device that’s right for a customer.
In addition, what about ramp-up time? How fast do you want someone to achieve minimum standards? Are leads furnished, or must the salesperson find them? Retail or Business-to- Business? Consultative or presentation skills only? Tangible or intangible products? Technical or non-technical? Long or short sales cycle?
Finally, what changes have occurred that have created challenges in the marketplace and company that affect what we look for in a salesperson? How must a salesperson behave to face the challenges that the sales effort demands each day within the company’s present culture?
The Ideal Candidate Traits for Your Position
Here’s another way to think of this first question. What do the profiles of excellent sales people look like in your industry? Are there some common characteristics among these people? To answer it, think about the answers to questions like these:
- How high is their drive to reach deadlines?
- Are they motivated to achieve an end result (sale) in a short sales cycle?
- Will they keep key activity levels high?
- Is strategic thinking and well-planned sales calls more important because the sales cycle is longer?
- What technical analysis is necessary?
- How socially driven are they?
- Do they have a high need for recognition and attention for your contest-driven culture?
- Will they find leads and prospect well?
- Will they network well?
- How socially confident are they?
- How assertive can they be when expressing themselves, asking sensitive questions, or asking people to make a decision?
- Does the sales role require an independent, entrepreneurial spirit or a participative, teaming personality?
- Is optimism important?
- What level of customer service is necessary?
- Do they promote (sell) themselves, the company, the products, and services by stressing benefits and embellishing the sizzle of these things?
A Recruiting System Safeguards You From a Poor Hire
As you answer these, think about the negative effects of these six situations and if they fit your sales position. They could lead you to find more important traits. Here they are:
- What if reps cannot maintain the activity levels necessary to reach their sales goals?
- What if they cannot bounce back from rejection?
- What if they cannot handle themselves in a way with prospects that leads to good closing ratios? What if they cannot listen?
- What if reps spend more time analyzing deals than is necessary?
- What if reps spend too much time socializing with prospects and customers?
- What if the reps do not have the assertive ability to ask sensitive questions or tell prospects what to do next?
- What if reps regard sales problems and setbacks as roadblocks to disaster and do not have the optimism necessary to find solutions or alternative ways to success?
There is an important reason that I give you these questions. It is because of what we have found working with hundreds of sales organizations. If we ask sales leaders, managers, and recruiters in the same company, “What are the characteristics you look for when selecting salespeople?” they will give us different answers.
That’s what we call Voodoo recruiting—recruiting by putting pins in a doll and without a clear target of traits for all the recruiting steps and tools to point towards. There is nothing scientific about it, and the predictability for sales success when hiring someone, a person everyone thinks can sell, can drop below 50/50. This contributes to turnover costs in the millions and 60,000 to 300,000 lost revenue per hire—not to mention opportunities lost and the negative effect on the people hired and all the other sales team members who work there.
So, there is the number one question to answer first before a Recruit the Best sales system can be developed with all its process steps, tools and skills pointed at these psychometric traits. You need a recruiting system pointed at well-researched traits that will give you a higher predictability than 50/50. Then, you will find the candidate that will sell what you sell at the levels you need them sold and in a way that customers love.
To reiterate, the first critical question that will help you hire the best salespeople is: What is the Psychometric Description of Character, Attitudes, Motivation, Personality and Skills for your sales position—one that best describes what it takes to sell what you sell, at a certain level and in a specific way? It’s also a trait description of a person who will best fit your sales and company culture.
The Last 4 Questions That Will Help You Hire the Best Salespeople
The other 4 critical questions to design the best recruiting system for salespeople are:
- What are the best sourcing methods that will produce the best candidate pool—one that has high quality and potential interest from its members for your company’s sales position?
- What are the step-by-step methods you will use to screen candidates for your researched traits in order to exit them from the recruiting system and eliminate wasted time for the candidate and yourself?
- As the candidate moves to the next stage of your recruiting system, what general mental ability and personality assessments will you use to evaluate and provide objective comparisons to best performing salespeople?
- What questions will you design into at least two structured interviews, done by different interviewers, to reduce the effects of impression management by the candidate and to evaluate their conscientiousness, character and motivational levels?
You can increase selection predictability with the answers to these questions. They will point you to a best practice system that will help you increase your chance of recruiting the best, increase retention and sales, and create a high level of customer satisfaction.
Get started by improving your recruiting which is one of the most critical systems in your company. And if you need some help, please reach out to us.