Why do some companies have such a great track record of hiring successful sales people? Why is it that some sales managers have all the luck and continue to hit their sales quota with their teams while others continually have sales teams that consistently miss sales targets? One thing we know, it is not luck.
If we were to break this question down into different parts we could come up with some pretty innovative and interesting ideas on why certain sales managers are successful with their teams. However, if there is a common denominator amongst all of the high producing managers, it would be their ability to hire the right people.
This sounds like an easy formula for sales management success (hiring successful sales people) but if it was truly that easy then all sales teams would be hitting and exceeding their sales quotas and generous bonus would be paid out yearly. The fact of the matter is that only a small percentage of sales managers fit into this category of being able to consistently hire the right salesperson and have a high performing sales team.
Here are a few tips on how managers consistently build their winning teams and continue hiring successful sales people:
1. Check your feelings at the door – don’t allow your emotions to carry you into “liking or disliking” a candidate for the first 30 minutes of the initial interview. One needs to fight the temptation to be emotionally involved when evaluating a candidate. If you start liking someone too soon then you need to force yourself to be tougher on the candidate to compensate for the emotional buy-in that can take place in the interview. The same is true for someone you may not naturally gravitate to in the interview. Be easy on these candidates if you feel yourself pulling away at the start of the interview. First impressions are not always accurate – especially in an interview setting when sales candidates may not have been on an interview in years. It may take a few minutes for them to become comfortable.
2. Industry Jargon and name dropping is not important – some salespeople who are from within your industry will freely use terminology and drop names of people they know in the industry. The successful sales manager will not get caught up in the “industry jargon and name dropping” trap. Some smooth talking sales candidates are very good at providing a smoke screen (industry jargon and people they know) to try to cover up flaws in their work history and lack of success in previous roles.
3. Stick to a simple hiring process – find a hiring process that works, that produces consistent results and don’t deviate from the process, no matter who you are interviewing. It is very easy for sales managers to look at a resume or have a candidate referred by a friend and think that “this one” doesn’t need to go through the hiring process. Make it a point of following every step the same way for every candidate. Hiring successful sales people involves several steps, not just a traditional interview.
4. Look for the right competencies and intelligence not industry experience – too often sales managers want candidates who know the industry they are selling into today. This is a great requirement if the candidate has the ability to be successful. However, there is a large pool of smart and competent candidates who are not presently involved in your business today and could be your next superstar. If you limit your candidate pool to only industry experienced candidates then you will miss out on some very strong talent. Successful sales managers know this and always keep the door open to top talent with less of an emphasis on industry experience.
5. Always be recruiting – a successful sales manager has an eye for sales talent and is always watching and observing potential candidates in all aspects of life. If this successful sales manager observes someone with all the right competencies and comes across in an intelligent manner then a business card is given, a name is written down in a recruitment journal or a coffee is set up to go a little deeper to better understand the potential next sales hire. The wrong time a sales manager should be looking for sales talent is when he/she has a vacancy. Sales managers need to keep a deep reserve of talent in the wings who have been short listed and are prepared for a future phone call for a formal interview.
Successful sales team just don’t happen and consistent sales producing teams are intentionally developed by sales managers who know what they are doing and continues to follow the process hire after hire.
Craig Bissett is President of Hire Results Ltd, the developers of the Hiring Simulation Assessment process for sales teams. Mr. Bissett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org