Most business owners feel salespeople are lazy, unaccounted for and rarely earn their keep. They believe that salespeople enjoy the freedom of few employer obligations and the company paid “entertainment.”
It is a rare occurrence when I see a small to medium size business have a structured, well thought out hiring process. Attracting ambitious salespeople is as simple as being that “attractive and ambitious company people want to work!”
The reason I am writing this article is for you, the business leader who may not have the time or experience to learn exactly how to hire a salesperson who performs beyond expectation.
Let us take this one step at a time, shall we?
Build “standards” in your hiring program. Simply put, if you can answer the following questions you are WAY ahead of the game and this article may not be of help to you. If you have a difficult time filling in between the lines, keep reading!
Here is an outline – skip the sections you already have in place and focus on the areas your firm needs assistance:
Step #1 – Definitions and Expectations
What are our goals when hiring this person? Are they to begin at a ground floor level? Are they filling an “inside” position to support the field representatives and to communicate with current customers? Or is this the “all out” cold prospecting outside sales position?
Using this example –
You are looking for an outside salesperson, a self-starter, perhaps he or she is working in a related industry or field. A recent example – While I was working for a specialized electrical contractor whose salespeople call on facility and property managers, we began our search for a field representative focused on salespeople who call on or have established relationships with people in these two categories.
For instance, a commercial HVAC / Mechanical salesperson. With so many people on social media, it is easy to find the people you need… also, keep in mind that it is best to hire someone who is NOT looking for a new job.
The people who are dissatisfied with their current position are probably part of the problem and not the solutions salespeople who are happy, and whom you are in need of finding.
Now we can begin checking off the list of expectations:
Consistency of Communication
- What is your expectation? Daily, weekly, monthly or even hourly? Define it, write it down.
- How will they communicate both internally and externally?
- How available are you or their direct supervisor to receive questions and provide direction?
Reporting (CRM or alternative program)
- If you have a CRM, be sure to have it set up prior to hiring a salesperson.
- If you are ahead of the game and have salespeople already recording activities into a CRM, be sure the person you are considering hiring has a track record of inputting data into a CRM.
- Write out the steps for recording activities.
- No CRM? Design a spread sheet in which the person can memorialize their activities in a shared document.
- Defining the activities which lead to a sale is imperative to getting your salespeople on one page.
- You will want to search for a person who enjoys doing the activities you define.
Example: Position requires a person to rely heavily on networking and meeting new people. Be sure to hire someone who LOVES meeting new people!
Key Performance Indicators
- What are the Key Performance Indicators which again, leads to a sale? Perhaps it is face-to-face meetings? Or number of presentations?
- An introvert is more comfortable doing presentations (especially via video conference) than meeting people face-to-face.
- If your sales process is simply presenting your product with features and benefits via video conference, then and introverted person can be successful so long as they are driven.
- The KPI’s can help you define the type of person you are looking to hire.
Benchmarks or Milestones
- What are your expectations for month 3, month 6 and beyond?
- One of the worse things an employer can do is hang on to a low-performing employee with anticipation of performing someday one day.
- Define or outline what your minimum performance expectations are and hold the new salesperson to that standard.
- As stated above, what are we looking for in this position?
- If this position requires this person to be an Ambivert, Extrovert or Introvert, be sure you are talking with someone who fits the personality traits you need.
- Do not waste time talking with people who do not fit your profile.
Profiling the Position
- Now you are ready to drill down to the core of what you are looking for.
- Attitudes --> Define
- Skills --> Define
- Actions --> Define
Save yourself and your HR people time by completing this exercise.
Step #2 – The On-Boarding Process
This is by far the simplest step in the hiring process. What will the first day look like? Do you have a desk or workspace available? How have you planned out the first week? Keep in mind, ambitious people want to know that you are organized and prepared to help them perform at their finest.
Training – We must have a strong outlined training schedule for them to rely upon. A newly hired salesperson is wondering if they have made the right decision; the employer is wondering the same thing.
Both product and sales training are vital in helping your new hire feel comfortable, welcome, and important in those first few months. Organizations with strong “people” appreciative culture will keep and attract talent far more than the mediocre companies.
Newly hired salespeople will ramp up quicker if the new employer is 100% prepared for their arrival.
The little things matter most. Cards, a computer, email address, phone (if necessary), workspace, logoed shirts and coffee mugs are just a few examples. Internal forms like mileage and expense reports as well as specific guidelines of what is a company expense and what is not.
Choose a good strong partner, preferably the sales manager for the new hire to follow and learn the ropes.
Provide the introduction or marketing material for your new salesperson. In person handouts, mailers, electronic pieces and success stories or case studies.
Salespeople thrive on maximizing expectations – lay out exactly what is expected of them from day 1. Provide them a map of where they are now and where you expect them to be in the weeks and months to follow. They will strive toward those expectations.
Step #3 – Talent Search
I bet you were wondering when this article would touch on HOW to search for this ambitious and outgoing salesperson… well here we are.
Outside of hiring an outside consultant, we first start by deciding on which media site(s) we will use to place our offering. Priced all over the board, do your research on these sites to learn which is best for the type of salesperson you are considering.
Personally, I like to reach out to targets directly using LinkedIn. I keep it casual and ask them to connect with me. The next sentence uses the passive aggressive approach – “I am working with a client who is looking for a salesperson in your industry / market. Who do you know that might be interested in exploring other opportunities?”
This process is easy for a Sales Coach as it is not intrusive or overly direct. But, for the business owner we need to keep it professional and, in some cases, confidential.
Writing the offer can be easy; as easy as looking for the same job offering online and copy some of the “descriptions” customize it for your specific profile.
I like to use the same three “topics” listed above: What are the attitudes, skills and actions needed to be successful at the position? List them out. Candidates reading your list of requirements will either move on or become curious. You want curious.
Include in your description the ways in which your salespeople will be messaging targets or current clients. This helps prospective candidates imagine what they will be doing for you and how well they may fit into your sales team.
Type of Seller, transactional or recurring business-to-business seller. Easy question: do your salespeople need to build business relationships or is it strictly transactional in nature? Transactional sellers are easy to find, in fact, relationship building sellers can easily perform at high success in transactional positions but, transactional sellers cannot perform well in relationship building sales.
Here are the traits I have found and look for when searching for new salespeople:
Traits found in top salespeople:
- Professional in appearance and dress.
- Industry experience not mandatory.
- Must love people (outside sales development).
- Express themselves fluently.
- Shows a degree of enthusiasm, excitement, and confidence.
- Has great social skills, easy to like from the start.
- Asks relevant questions and is a great listener.
- When asked, likes to talk about themselves.
- Appears happy with their personal life.
- Quick to smile and laugh, when talking looks directly at you with good eye contact.
- Ability to multi-task and not afraid to work hard long hours.
- Appears to be organized, resourceful and is computer literate.
- Is willing and anxious to learn new skills.
- Ambitious, wants to become a rainmaker but is a team player.
Step #4 – Compensation
Face it, good salespeople are opportunists.
They are seeking new and vital experiences with room to grow. Is this your company? Develop a great compensation program where everyone wins, both the successful salesperson and the company.
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when developing your compensation program:
- What are your competitors compensating their salespeople?
- Good salespeople will leave your company for better compensation
- No experience
- Training Plan
- Some experience and success
- Product and Sales Process training
- Veteran and great success
- High ticket person
- Highly Incentivized
- Hunting New Logos
- Salary Based + Commissions
- Account Managers
- Salary Only
- Customer Service Representatives
- Follow Up on Quotes / Projects
- Commission Only
- TOP Performers
Company Benefits Package
- How do you measure up against the competition?
Now it is up to you, the business owner to develop or direct your people to develop a TOP TIER hiring process.
Face it… TOP salespeople only want to work for TOP performing companies. You can possess the BEST products or services but if your hiring process is weak or better stated, unorganized you will not attract top performing talent.
Great salespeople are people-people, and they can smell a disorganized hiring processes like a squirrel smells a rotten nut.
This outline is simple to follow, easy to develop and once in place, even easier to execute, year after year.
In most businesses people are your largest expense. Prepare your business with a hiring process that ROCKS so you can realize that high rate of return on the biggest and most important investment, salespeople!
FAQ´s About How to Hire Salespeople that Will Skyrocket Your Profits
You state under profiling the position that I should define “Attitudes, Skills & Actions.” Could you please elaborate?
Good question. I believe that these three items, attitudes + skills + actions = success. Defining what attitudes, skills and actions are needed to succeed in the sales position is vital to the success of each of your salespeople and your organization.
The on-boarding process has been difficult for me to outline, yet you state that it is easy. How can you assist me with building my on boarding process and make it easy as you state?
I would suggest that you round up the troops, bring the team together and simply ask them what they would have liked when they were hired. You might even divide up the steps between your team members and have them design your program, under your guidance of course.
I have struggled to create a good compensation program. How can you help me design a program that works?
Compensation programs can be a challenge, no doubt. Here is what I would suggest: Identify two or three KPI’s and build the comp program around those activities. Example: KPI is face-to-face meetings; pay a bonus each month of the salesperson who lands the highest number of face-to-face meetings or pay out a bonus each KPI or for milestones reached.