Want to know how to hire salespeople who are not just great at sales but also a great fit for your company?
Whether you are hiring for a large company or a new entrepreneurial venture, hiring salespeople is not only one of the most important tasks you will undertake, it is also one of the most difficult.
After all, sales professionals are in sales, so having a solid process for evaluating sales talent is key.
What To Look Out For When Hiring Salespeople
During the hiring process, you should get to know your candidate better and get a sense of how well they’d fit in with your current team, specifically in terms of personality, values, and alignment to your goals. During this process, you almost have to use your instinct. The psychology around this is incredible – in fact, it can even be studied at university. The University of Southern California have looked into the psychology behind the decisions a hiring manager must make and it is quite interesting. Even if you aren’t going to study the psychology, still invest sometime into considering these few questions:
- Who inspires you? Who are your heroes?
- What’s the last thing you learned that you thought was interesting?
- What’s something that you taught yourself to do?
These questions allow people to open up, relax and share more about who they really are.
When hiring a salesperson it is also important to find out their level of ambition and how much they are willing to get their hands dirty.
How To Hire Salespeople: 3 Important Steps
Here are six important steps to take before hiring a salesperson:
Validate Past Sales Performance
Most sales professionals use references like “120% of quota” in their resumes but it is up to you to dig into their past record and validate their performance by asking for details.
This could be an outline of their annual sales quota, average deal size, sales cycle, largest deal, largest loss and other details about how he or she achieved their sales target.
You could also ask to talk to past sales managers. References are one thing, but you need to talk to the people that managed this individual and has intimate knowledge of sales performance. If a sales manager is not on the reference list or can’t be made available, it tells you something.
Give Them An Assignment
When hiring salespeople we like to ask applicants we see potential in, to do one or more mini-assignments. This gives us a preview of their work and work-style and a sneak-peek at how motivated they are.
Assignments to test their phone skills, prospecting capabilities or their ability to craft a sales strategy will give you a sense of how suitable they are for the role.
For example, if you were to use the Prospecting Assignment, the process would be as follows – Compile a spreadsheet of ten companies (in a disclosed location) that would be good prospects for us. Give them some specifics to look for, but otherwise, leave it up to them to make the call on how well these companies would fit.
Have them show their reasoning. This assignment shows their research skills, their analytical abilities, and attention to detail.
Lead research and understanding customer fit are major aspects of the SDR role, so we wanted to make sure they had these skills before we offered them a job.
Evaluate Their Questions
Good candidates should have a lot of questions. The way they approach you in an interview tells you a lot about how they would approach a sales opportunity.
Most interviewees have questions to ask too – as they should. Asking questions – good questions – shows their instinct to be proactive, a self-starter, their ability to do research, their inclination to be conversational about the process and their overall confidence and perspective of how well-suited they are for this position.
The Importance of Knowing How To Hire Salespeople
Hiring for an entrepreneurial venture is different than hiring for a large company. It’s not just about skills – it’s also about attitude and the ability to thrive in a fast-moving environment.
When you hire a salesperson you need to evaluate their ambition and work ethic, validate their past sales performance and test their skills with some assignments.
Often times, we hire sales talent by asking them to make short-term financial sacrifices in return for rapid career growth and/or management duties.
Can you deliver on these promises? Can you meet individual ambitions, and are their timelines for growth compatible with your team?
Be honest with yourself and the candidate from the get-go to decrease the chances of attrition later on.
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