by Cheryl Powers
How do you know for sure before you hire them that a salesperson or a sales leader can and will do what it takes to succeed? Their resume can't tell you. The headhunter doesn't want you to ask. The candidate will try to convince you in the interview and will likely be a more skillful interviewer than you are.
If you are serious about the success of your sales force and the success of your new hires, you simply can't wing it. You must know the specific sales skills, sales strengths (and weaknesses) sales competencies, and understand the sales DNA of each candidate before you hire them.
Many CEOs and sales leaders I speak with want a better way to predict the success of a new hire. The ONLY way to predict success is to customize a hiring process specific to your company's needs and to screen each candidate for the skills and competencies that matter most to each type of sales role for which you are recruiting (e.g. traditional outbound, inbound, account manager, hunter, customer service, channel sales)
Here are 9 critical factors that often get overlooked:
1. Desire - Desire to be the best is a must have for success in any field and is one of the most important elements in what we call The Will to Sell. Without desire, all the sales skills in the world won't matter because the salesperson won't want big enough success badly enough to do any more than is comfortable and enjoyable for them. People who lack desire travel the path of least resistance; a path which seldom leads to the destination of success. We will never recommend a candidate who scores low in desire.
2. Commitment - Being completely and unconditionally committed means that a salesperson or sales will do whatever it takes to succeed, no matter what. It's easy to want to be successful but we want salespeople who are committed to doing whatever they need to do and whatever you ask them to do to reach their goals. People who lack commitment often aren't very goal oriented. Some have gotten complacent with where they are in their career and as a result won't risk feeling fear or discomfort to reach a goal. Quite often hard working people fall into this category. They work hard but on all the wrong things or they just don't do enough of the right things to gain success. As a CEO, you must measure a person's level of commitment before offering them a job.
3. Motivation - Everyone is motivated by something. Knowing what motivates someone allows you to manage them more effectively as well as to help them realize their goals and aspirations. Knowing how motivated someone is and whether they are motivated intrinsically or extrinsically will give you a distinct advantage in creating a successful sales culture. We look at Motivation alongside another factor we measure called Enjoys Selling (#6 on this list) to determine whether or not we will recommend a candidate for hiring. If they aren't money motivated and don't enjoy selling, why would you expect them to perform well?
4. Outlook - Often people looking for new jobs have outlook problems. It's normal for candidates to feel a certain degree of unhappiness with their current situation. It's why they are looking for a new opportunity. It is when the outlook problem is chronic and pervasive and goes beyond their current employment issues that CEOs need to exercise extreme caution. An unchecked chronic outlook problem spreads like a contagious virus throughout the sales organization. Combine poor outlook with Lack of Responsibility (#5 on this list) and you have a real problem!
5. Responsibility - Excuses, excuses, excuses! People who score low on responsibility blame outside circumstances for their personal ineffectiveness. And if you as a CEO don't recognize the excuses and don't train your sales leaders to effectively deal with them, you will live with mediocre results and the frustration of poor performance. Don't settle for less than, "I am responsible" in a salesperson. If you don't have an effective way to measure responsibility you will no doubt hire people who blame you, your product, your pricing, your competition and the economy for their own weaknesses. Do whatever it takes to create an atmosphere of truth telling and screen out the people who can't or won't take responsibility. And remember, it starts with you.
6. Enjoys Selling - Yes, we measure this too. Why? Because it's a whole lot easier to coach and manage people who love what they do. On its own this one won't cripple your sales force if you get it wrong. But if you have someone who doesn't like to sell and has other performance issues, you will likely have problems. It's measurable and what can be measured can be managed.
7. Trainable - If you don't know whether a candidate is trainable then you don't know whether or not they have the ability and incentive to change. You must hire candidates that will adapt to your needs and environment and adopt your methods and standards. If a salesperson is trainable, they will also have the required desire and commitment, plus a good outlook. If a salesperson isn't trainable, how will they be able to learn what you need them to know to achieve real success? How many training dollars are you wasting on people who can't or won't change?
8. Coachable - Coachable salespeople are able to take what they learn and apply it in exactly the ways you ask them to. They are open to doing it your way. They are adaptable. They are willing to take constructive criticism and will often seek feedback from their manager. Screen for this factor and develop your managers into high performance sales coaches!
9. Speed of Learning - This is a very important factor in ramp up time. Candidates who score well (75%+) will be able to bring in business much faster than those with lower scores. The lower this score is the longer it will take a candidate to produce revenue. This hiring factor in candidates who also have good selling skills combined with an effective sales process and methodology will allow you to significantly shorten your sales cycle.
If you want a high performing sales organization, hiring people with these nine factors is a must. And if you have a team that is underperforming, you need to know which of these are affecting your results. Stop the costly and time-consuming guesswork and start finding and dealing with the real issues. When you do, you will grow faster and more profitably -- and you'll have much more fun along the way.
Ready to find out how much your hiring mistakes are costing you? Answer a few questions and find out. If you'd like to learn more about recruiting stronger salespeople and sales leaders register as my guest for our next hiring webinar on recruitment best practices for CEOs, presidents, and global VPs.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Please comment below or send me an email at [email protected]
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