TeamBuilder Search, a professional staffing, team building and recruiting agency, delivers tips, advice and guidance in digital marketing careers, digital transformation careers and emerging tech careers.
Harvey Mackay, the author of the above quote, from Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, states an often underestimated truth. One could argue that sales is the most important function in an organization. Sales is the turbine where the energy of your company is generated–if nothing gets sold, you can’t keep the lights on. There’s no argument that success in hiring the right sales reps is of utmost importance, but unfortunately, we see tremendous failure rates in hiring sales people. This does not have to be you!
As a hiring agency, we get the chance to place candidates in many different sales roles—from inside sales to CRO roles, and everything in between. We mainly focus on placing people within agencies, emerging technologies and digital transformation teams but the following six tips will help you hire your next sales rep, no matter what your focus is.
1. Get clear on the engagement.
When considering sales roles, there are at least four vital functional areas:
- lead generation
- lead qualification to prospective client
- prospect client to client conversion
- client wallet share maximization
Make sure to be clear on what, if anything, the sales rep will do in each of these four areas. If they are performing lead generation, exactly what activities will they be responsible for. If they are qualifying, then how will they be qualifying the client. If they are converting prospects to clients, then what activities are involved in the conversation process. If they are involved in wallet share maximization, what activities will they be responsible for?
Understanding the sales rep’s responsibility in these four functional areas will allow you to develop an Ideal Candidate Blueprint™.
In many cases, when we do this exercise with clients, it becomes fairly evident the client hasn’t really thought about the role in this amount of detail. Zig Ziglar’s wry insight applies: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”
2. Develop your unique selling proposition.
The best sales people have options when looking for employers. They need a reason to choose your company, and your position, over those other opportunities. Work hard to communicate with clarity why this person would want to work for you. Perhaps, write it down so you’re clear about why they should work for you. Then when communicating with the candidate, there is no mistake. Many people skip over this step or falsely believe what they are offering will sell itself. It may or may not! Be brutally honest, but sell them on your company—they will appreciate a clear pitch.
3. Get the compensation right.
Great sales people have the chance to make a lot of money. If you want to attract them, you have to pay them well. Their base has to be solid and OTE (On Target Earnings) must also be attractive. Everyone wants a great sales force, but not everyone is willing to pay for it. Consider success in this area as a strategic advantage over your competition!
4. Get clarity on support factors.
Some reps are accustomed to functioning with a great deal of support, and may find it very difficult to function without it. The kind of support we’re talking about is:
- great brand awareness
- relationships that can be leveraged
- well-developed sales tools
- sales support personnel
Just because a rep has had great success in a well-supported role, doesn’t mean she will have success in your emerging brand. Sometimes it’s difficult to go from wearing one hat to wearying many. Hiring reps from well-supported roles and placing them in lesser supported roles often leads to failure—we see this all the time.
5. Get clear on account service levels.
Most of us have heard this one—Hunters vs Farmers. We witness many hunters assigned to farming roles, and farmers assigned to hunting roles. Make sure farmers farm and hunters hunt. It’s all too easy to hire one person and expect them to do everything from cold-calling to wallet share maximization. Unfortunately, with this mindset you end up with mediocrity, at best. And at worst, you get a severely underperforming sales organization. Studies show that only 2% of reps are excellent at all four of the functional sales areas, so be clear on your candidate’s leaning – do they go out and get (hunter), or do they cultivate (farmer)?
6. Understand motivation.
Human beings are motivated by either external or internal factors. Reps that are motivated extrinsically will be influenced by variable pay, public recognition, etc. Reps that are intrinsically motivated will be influenced by being valued, personal satisfaction, and achievement. If you understand how your reps are motivated you have a great opportunity at, well, motivating them!
We’d love to hear what you think, so please add to the conversation by leaving a comment. Have you had some great successes at hiring a sales rep? What factors do you think are most important in getting the right sales people?