Let’s face it.
Hiring for sales in many companies is difficult internally — i.e. — within the company.
I have known of cases where the HR department and the sales directors are at odds with each other. As I pointed out in the previous article, “Sales-Hire Assessments – Part 2: Why SALES is Hard to Hire for,” sales hiring is a very different animal than most other business hiring. You need a special type of person to be on the front line, boldly prospecting and confidently convincing prospects to look, listen, consider and buy. Most people you might hire for other positions are not that good at these things. They may lack the unique personality traits, the drive, or the ambition to make a career in sales.
In short, you need to recognize that your best salespeople (that often includes recruiters and other business-development roles) are a different breed.
A good sales group has its own culture. It is a front-line culture.
This is where the rub sometimes comes in with many in human resources. They are looking out for the overall company culture — which is not a bad thing. Usually, this culture emphasizes sharing goals and communicating well on joint projects and meeting common challenges. Make no mistake, these skills are very important for a company to ingrain into its wider culture. Many of the generic pre-hire assessments out there help somewhat to determine these traits in candidates. And of course you want to screen out psychopathic and sociopathic traits.
However, there is another, more unique skill set also needed for successful sales production by individual members of a sales team. Another group of personality traits must be analyzed. You need to be able to interview for boldness and assertiveness. These traits are necessary for your “elite” sales group. They have to be able to move quickly with confidence.
Hollywood has always understood this. Look at the movies that deal with any kind of “front line” hero, movies like Independence Day or Spiderman, or Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, even Moana! They are bold heroes, ready to go for the most important thing, ready to make their mark quickly, and full of energy and ambition.
When it comes to sales-hiring assessments, HR may be looking for an entirely different outcome from the process than the sales leadership is.
One reason the HR department may have a hard time hiring salespeople of this type may be that few in HR have ever made a living in commissioned sales. It is possible they do not understand daily prospecting, appointment-setting and deal-closing. Usually, personnel offices are full of good, team-building and rules-conscious process folks. Great people — don’t get me wrong —we know some real heroes there. But they tend to be more farmers than hunters. Therefore, the assessments they use often tend to be more generalized team-building and compatibility assessments.
For sales, this is not enough.
A good sales-hiring assessment will highlight the traits needed for salespeople. And the best assessments are statistically validated and benchmarked against successful salespeople in the same industry.
The best salespeople can work well alone. They tend to be more assertive. They are self-starters. They often don’t wait for general consensus. They are more like an athlete gearing up to run down the track, the field, or the court. They often do not look back to see who followed until they make the score or cross the line. They are usually driven by goals and are often competitive. They tend to be more like hunters than farmers.
If your company is going to succeed or excel in your market, you must have some people like this. But how do you find them? How do you recognize them when they apply? And how do you coach and keep them?
Sales recruiting demands a special approach. In order to find the hunters, the racehorses, and the individualists that you likely need on your sales team, it takes a different type of hiring assessment. Actually, sales hiring needs a different recruiting system for the best outcome.
Press Hard for the right outcome from your sales-hire process.
For a pre-employment sales-hiring process, this is the outcome you should look for:
- It should help me identify the Hunters and the self-starters among our applicants. “I need at least ____% of my sales force to be like that” (you fill in the blank).
- It should help me identify the posers (many who apply for sales jobs try to ‘fake’ the assessment and sell YOU in the interview). You may like them personally, but often they cannot sell very well.
- It should spotlight the specific sales behaviors that the candidate scores well on as well as the possible stress areas for sales work. Specifically these are behaviors like Prospecting, Setting Appointments, Handling Rejection, Face-to-face Selling and the ability to Close a sale.
- A very important outcome is for the process to give you statistical matching, scientifically validated trait scores correlated to those successful in sales within your industry.
- You need an outcome that will provide you with the best follow-up interview questions, based upon the strong and weak parts of the assessment results.
- Finally, and this is very important, you need to get a good onboarding and coaching outcome. The system (including the assessment) that you use should tee up a great onboarding experience for both the company and the new hire. Then it should serve as a basis for individual mentoring and coaching as the new sales rep grows into the job.
These people are your front line. PRESS ON for the outcome you need.
If your sales recruiting system does not deliver these outcomes, or if you do not even have a system, you need to get one. Do not settle for less.
We at Sales Manage Solutions have a highly regarded system we would love to share with you. Just send us a note or give us a call!