It has been said that in business nothing happens until someone sells something! This is true regardless of the type of company you are building. You can have an amazing product or service but until someone sells it…nothing happens. No kids get sent to college, no vacations, no diseases cured, no company growth, nada, nothing. When it comes to selling, hiring a great sales team can make all the difference in the success of your company and frankly getting it right reduces all sorts of other stresses. So let’s take a look at a couple of shortcuts that will help you hire a great sales team more consistently.
Make the job description and posting describe the person not the role.
When looking to fill a sales role you should develop an exhaustive list of the activities the successful person will be involved in and the environment they’ll do it in. For instance will they sell one-on-one? Will they sell to a group with group presentations? Is it in person or over the phone? Do they need to create their own leads or will you provide them? Once you have a clear understanding of the role, write the job posting to describe the person and not the role. This might read like this: “You are adept at selling solutions that exceed $200,000 to upwards of $1mm. You are well spoken, can command a room’s attention, and have high energy levels. People consider you a leader and you consider your sales territory as your personal business.” The reason this type of description outperforms other job descriptions is that it causes people to either select in or out based on what they read. It is not unusual to find the best candidate stepping forward and saying, “I love this job, it describes me perfectly!” Follow this simple rule and you’ll dramatically increase the quality of your applicant pool.
Include a Performance Interview
Even mediocre salespeople interview great. Don’t rely on a traditional interview and expect to have great results. Include in your process a performance interview. Prepare for this by giving the candidate a sales scenario and some of the background materials on your company, product and services in advance. You will then have them role-play the sales call with your team. There is nothing like seeing a candidate in action to get a feel for how they do. Don’t just focus on WHAT they do during the role-play. Be more interested in HOW. Do they use questions? Do they put the prospect at ease? Do they have a sense of humor? Do you like them? Another benefit of doing a performance interview is that you see how well a person studies and puts in effort when they want the job. The truth is people won’t work any harder once they have the role so pay close attention to the level of effort given at this stage. Additionally, whomever you end up hiring will also be that much closer to actually going out and selling; they’ve already studied up on what your team does!
Have the candidate sell on day one.
Now that you’ve made the job offer, make sure the person does some selling activity on the very first day they are hired. Have you ever been on a good program of exercise and healthy eating and then taken a long vacation? It’s tough to get back in the groove when you return isn’t it? It’s the same way with your new salesperson. You are hiring them because of their skill. Don’t let too much time pass in HR training or other activities before you get them in the field selling. They’ll get out of shape quickly.
While there are many aspects to hiring a great sales team and getting them to perform, following the three shortcuts above will have a quick and dramatic improvement on your results. Remember, nothing happens until someone sells something! Make sure you have the right team selling.
Jonathan Whistman is the author of The Sales Boss: The Real Secret to Hiring Training and Managing a Sales Team (Wiley, July 2016). He is the Senior Partner at Elevate Human Potential and shares his insights from over 2500 sales rides in the field.
Published on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 8/4/16