B2B Sales
April 27, 2021

The SECRET To Hiring Salespeople

The secret to hiring salespeople and building a winning sales team

Frank needs to fill three open roles on his team, and plans to use a framework. He will hunt for talent, create a structured interview plan, score people against a rubric, and evaluate the results of the hiring process.

Terry, on the other hand, doesn’t use a framework for hiring. He posts openings on free job boards, pulls available colleagues into the room for, and bases his final hiring decisions on gut feel. When a new hire doesn’t work out, he tries to figure out why and makes adjustments, sometimes.

The reality is that Frank and Terry can both be successful. However, when building a sales team, are you looking for consistent results that you can control?  Or are you willing to roll the dice and hope for the best?

After working with hundreds of companies and thousands of salespeople, we discovered that frameworks are the best way to consistently attract, grow and retain top talent.

How to Apply Frameworks

In a vast sea of potential candidates start with a rock-solid talent acquisition strategy

  1. Get the best candidate for your organization – not necessarily the best candidate available. What’s the difference?

The best candidate available will want the best compensation available. And he or she will deserve it – the “perfect candidate” will make numerous demands but rarely does the contribution to their new organization significantly outpace that of someone with less pedigree, and a strong commitment from the organization to develop.

You can grow the best for you. If you find the right people and plug them into an effective system, they will excel and the organization will thrive.

  1. Use a talent competency model

Define specific competencies that your salespeople need to do a job well.

A candidate doesn’t need to possess every competency when hired, but deficiencies should be well understood, and a training program should be in place to help fill the gap between where the person is today and where they need to be to consistently perform at the desired level.

We like to think of these components as contributing to MAStery:

Mindset – There are two types of mindsets – persistent and resistant.

Identify which persistent mindsets are required to do the job well, and which resistant mindsets will disqualify a candidate.

Failure to identify and coach toward persistent mindsets, and away from resistant mindsets, create’s frustration between the sales rep and manager. Examples below:

The Persistent mindset is the voice in our heads that tells us “You can do it.” For salespeople, this sounds like, “My product solves critical problems for CEOs” or, “By asking tough questions, I can save my time and my prospect’s time,” or “Of course prospects will reject me – they are busy and have been bothered by others. It’s not a reflection on me or my abilities.” The persistent mindset sets up a salesperson for success.

The Resistant mindset is the other voice in our heads that tells us, “You’re doomed! You’re not gonna make it! You’re going to fail!” For salespeople, this can sound like, “I know my product solves problems, but it’s awfully expensive. I’m not sure it’s worth that much.” Or, “If I ask tough questions, the prospect is not going to like me” The resistant mindset protects us from difficult things as a means of self-preservation. It resists that which is uncomfortable.

ActivityWhat do your salespeople need to do to succeed? There are three categories of activity:

If a candidate has done a similar job before, it’s fairly easy to determine if they are willing and able to perform the activity through the interview and subsequent reference checks.

If they have not performed a similar job, hiring teams should find a parallel and identify if they have the aptitude to perform the activity.

Making a hiring commitment to someone who wants to do something they have never done before is a risky proposition for a manager.

It is also critical to spell out each activity in the job description. One mistake many companies make is to avoid discussing certain less-pleasant activities, either in the job description or during the interview process.

Skillset – Outline a list of specific skills that must be present for a successful new hire.

These skills fall into two categories:

Understand which of these skills must have already been acquired, and which can still be developing. Any sales role should have a list of specific skills that must be present for success, and organizations must test for both acquired and developing skills.

Once you have completed this preliminary step of fleshing out your talent acquisition strategy, you can then proceed with the talent planning process which will be the topic for our next post.

This post contains excerpts from our latest book – Hiring, Onboarding and Ramping Salespeople. If you would like to explore more on this topic, buy your copy on Amazon.

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