So you are looking for the best players in sales? What do you need to know an in order to hire the best sales people that will grow your company? In this series we are going to teach you in detail how to identify the best sales reps and how to find them for your innovative product or service.
WHERE TO START
It comes as no surprise that A player sales talent will not come knocking at your door anytime soon. When on the prowl for great sales talent you must be persistent and particular. Think of it as dating. You would never bring someone home to mom you considered to be average, so why would you bring sales people into your company who are not the very best? Before you introduce anyone to mom and dad you have to identify the type of characteristics you want to see in your ideal date. So let’s identify the top traits we tend to see in the best sales reps.
1. Self- Motivated
It is no secret that great sales reps are often competitive and motivated by money. So what about your reps that are already consistently hitting quota and surpassing the other reps? Most reps in this position would feel confident knowing they are the very best and do not have much competition within the company, which is not all bad; being confident is a great trait to have especially when selling! But, you always want your reps to be in consistent competition with themselves. If they are passing the other reps, great! Regardless, they should always be setting goals for themselves aside from those provided to them. With this mentality your reps will only continue to grow and never become complacent. If your reps sales are continuously growing, then so will your company. It's simple! Next time when interviewing ask candidates about their previous monthly quota goals and compare them to the goals they set on their own. If the candidate was not pushing aggressively towards their own goals then they're probably not someone who will be an asset to your sales team.
2. Prior Success
When searching for candidates, prior success of a rep is very important, but sometimes hard to determine. You always want reps that have a clear record of past success. On paper it may seem clear that a sales rep is highly qualified, but don't stop there. The best way to understand if a candidate is truly capable of performing the job is to see for yourself. Put all of your candidates through a sales simulation. During this simulation have the interviewee sell to you. From this exercise you will clearly be able to tell if the interviewee is as successful as they claim. Great sales people will be able to pitch you their current product with no preparation, and it won’t sound rusty or forced. A great way to tell that a rep isn’t prospecting on a regular basis is to have them “cold call” you and see if they stumble over words or say “um” a lot. A rep that is prospecting day in and day out will be almost seamless in their pitch and lyrics. Secondly, be sure to provide constructive criticism to the candidate and observe how they handle the suggestions. After, have them sell once more to you, if they receive the advice in a positive way you will know if they are coachable. Hiring candidates that are always willing to learn is key when thinking of the future of your organization. Prior success is what gets the best candidates in the door, while coachability and willingness to be corrected will determine their future success.
You want sales players in your organization that are highly motivated about sales and the company they work for. For some sales comes easier than others. Candidates that are naturally good sales people are often passionate about selling, its something that they enjoy to do. When talking to candidates ask them what they enjoy most about selling, this will usually tell you if a rep is passionate about sales or if its simply a 9a- 5p. Although a candidate may be passionate and have a desire to win in sales that does not mean they are the man for the job. If the product does not interest the candidate do not waste your time with them. I’m not saying the candidate has to be the most enthusiastic to sell tech software, but they should at least show interest and knowledge about the product. Passionate players add so much more value to your organization, and they are more than likely to stay around longer than someone who shows little to no interest in the product or service. One VP of Sales would rate interviewees on basic questions about the company to see how prepared the candidate was for the interview and how passionate they were about getting a job at his company (like what year they were founded or the name of their flagship product).
Regardless of a person's personality type anyone has the potential to succeed in sales, but in this case we prefer to see extroverts in sales positions. Extroverts are typically very out going and easy to connect with. Connecting with customers is a major key in selling. Building that personal relationship with clients is what keeps them coming back, instead of doing business with the competitor. When searching for extroverts look for a balance of how much the candidate is talking vs how much they are listening. Listening for an extrovert can be extremely tough, but if they are able to overcome this weakness it will give them a competitive advantage in sales. But, do not get me wrong, some of the best sales players are indeed introverts. Introverts have been known to have a harder time connecting with people, although that doesn't mean they are out of the question for hiring. Use your best judgement! If you find a candidate that is an introvert but crushing their sales numbers it speaks volumes to their willingness to grow themselves and their determination and they would probably be a fantastic hire. One of the biggest mistake we see companies make is hiring extroverts (or good “talkers”) and expecting that makes them a great sales person. Caring about people, solving problems, and having a high level of grit and determination makes a great sales person much more than just being born an extrovert.
5. Well- Dressed
Typically upon meeting someone you will first notice their appearance. First, your brain will notice their race and gender, and then you will notice how visually pleasing that person is to the eye. So, make sure you are hiring the most attractive sales reps possible! JUST KIDDING! But, you want to ensure your reps are always well dressed, clean cut, and ready to do business. Candidates do not have to look like they just stepped out of Fashion Weekly, but notice if their clothes are neat, hair trimmed, shirt tucked, and clothes fit flatteringly. It is sad to say but appearance matters when selling. Clients already have preconceived notions about you, your company, and your intentions. Please don't give them another reason to object your product or service.
WHERE TO LOOK
Now that you know what your ideal match is, where should you start searching? Facebook, Match, Tinder, etc.? Why not ask a friend to set you up on date?
Within progressive companies one of the top mistakes that is made is attempting to tackle all hiring efforts themselves, but often they lack the bandwidth to really find the best talent. Consequently, using outside recruiters is the best way to go. But why would you use external recruiters when your company has an HR department? First, they are professionals and all they work on is searching and placing top talent. That means they are really good at what they do. The more niche a company is, the more experience they have to master their work. Secondly, their reputation relies solely on finding the best talent, and matching them with the right job opportunities, so if their hires do not work out that recruiter’s reputation will only tarnish. Finally, pick a recruiter who only hires sales reps.
ASK 3 QUESTIONS
When you are interviewing for sales positions there are 3 interview questions you should ask.
1. How do you prospect?
Find out how they have done prospecting in the past to understand what they have done and what they are willing to do for your company. An ideal response would be:
They have done their own prospecting, and are prepared to do it at your company if needed. If the marketing team at their last company gave them all their leads, they probably cannot successfully prospect on their own. They should know tools for email and phone prospecting, and can explain them in detail to you. They can tell you multiple stories about how they were able to close a deal with a decision maker at your size prospect. Also, have them do a quick cold call with you. A rep who is prospecting frequently will have their pitch down cold, but a rep who prospects infrequently will be rusty and they will pause to think about their lyrics. This is an immediate red flag about their lack of consistent prospecting.
2. How do you qualify?
We want to ask this question to ensure they have extensive experience in qualifying leads and spend their time wisely by selling to the right prospects. A good sales rep is passionate about qualifying and kicking bad leads out of the pipeline, because they will not spend time on a prospect that will not result in a sale. Here are some answers you should look for:
They can tell you situations when they interviewed clients to determine product fit, and explain how they removed companies from the pipeline based on their needs analysis. They also need to be able to answer four questions about potential clients. Budget: does the company have the money for our product? Authority: are you speaking to the decision maker? Needs: does your product solve a pain point for this prospect? Timeline: when are we actually going to close this deal? These are all important questions to understand when prospecting.
3. How do you close?
This question is the most crucial of them all. You need to know that this person is truly capable of closing deals and contributing value to your organization. Getting a deal to close is an art, and it is not as easy as one would think. It takes courage, emotional intelligence, and a great understanding of the client. The best sales reps will have great stories to share here. There are reps who can prospect and are good talkers but cannot ask for money. Their self image is not developed enough to be able to ask decision makers for large or small sums of money. You screen for this by listening to how (or if) they close deals. If a rep can’t explain the last time they asked a prospect for money, they aren’t a closer.
Listen for a strong desire to close as connected to a sales rep's desire to win personally. For example, they won President's Club or they closed a deal and made 35k in commission. In addition listen for determination and sense a never give up attitude. The best stories are the ones where sales reps have gone above and beyond to get a deal that also won over the customer in the end.
ClOSING THE GAPS
Every blind date that your friend sets you up on may not be perfect. Which is why you have to feel comfortable discussing the candidates with your matchmaker. Tell them what you liked, what you didn't like about every date, so they know who to be on the lookout for next time.
Your recruiter is your matchmaker. They are there to help you find the PERFECT hire for your sales organization. Embrace the idea of working closely with your recruiter. If the recruiter is sending over good candidates but you feel they are not a fit for your team make that clear. If the recruiter is bringing great candidates and you want all your reps to have similar qualities let them know so they can continue to bring those types of candidates.
Don't rush the process. Finding quality candidates can sometimes be hard, but once you find that perfect match you'll see just how much it was worth the wait. Remember, date before you rush into marriage!