If you’re building a sales team, signs are positive - you’re probably in a good place.
Your business is growing and you’re enjoying success.
To make sure you continue to grow, you need to attract the right talent to join your team and scale your success.
You’re probably finding it difficult to see through charisma and well-rehearsed interview tactics to work out the true value and personality of a candidate.
To help you improve your hiring hit rate and make your final decision easy - we’ve created an eight-stage process to equip you and your team with the right tools to use when hunting for new star sales talent.
1. Identify the specific needs for your new sales hire
Creating a job spec isn’t the first step.
Before drafting up a job description, you should review your current business needs and assess any experience gaps in your sales department. Be honest about the skill set and experience level you need, and consider a realistic budget that you can afford to set aside for salary (and make sure the two match).
You may be looking to recruit more salespeople to your team for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s to capitalize on your current success or because you currently haven’t got the right people to meet the needs of the business - you need to know the why behind your new hire.
If you’ve had previous employees that lacked key skills or experience, investigate the specifics of why they failed. That way you can avoid this occurring again and tailor the job description to suit your ideal candidate.
2. Write the salesperson’s job description
A common mistake when writing a job description is the ‘more is more’ approach, leaving you with pages and pages of detail. Be clear and concise. This brevity will serve you better, and make sure the key features you are searching for aren’t lost in an ocean of text.
Simple rule of thumb: if it can’t fit on one page, it’s probably too long.
You also need to set a clear expectation you can deliver on to the candidate. Be honest about what a typical day might look like and try not to oversell the more glamorous aspects of the role. While this may attract a lot of candidates, it can also lead to disillusionment further down the line.
Make sure you use clear language. Saying “you’ll be a part of a successful sales team” is okay, but not as good as “you will be working within a team of six, using X tools to forecast and deliver sales”. This alternative gives a much clearer picture of the environment and requirements.
Take care to consider the skills and experience you consider to be mandatory. This will help you weed out unsuitable applicants. Consider the minimum amount of experience required in a similar role (particularly if the ability to manage others is a central part of the role).
3. Reach out to the right candidates
Sales superstars can be elusive, so you need to use everything in your power to track your ideal candidate down. Using several portals to advertise your vacancy will give you the opportunity to reach as many candidates as possible.
Your first port of call will probably be searching for candidates who are actively looking for a new role. Don’t limit yourself to this step (particularly if your new hire is a senior one). You’ll find it’s often worth the extra effort to reach out to potential superstar candidates who aren’t actively searching.
While these more passive candidates may not be crawling the web for their next job, with a persuasive and personalized pitch, you may be able to generate interest in what your company has to offer.
Active candidates will be looking at online job posting sites such as Indeed.com, whereas passive candidates are best reached via their LinkedIn profiles or email with a tailored message focused on the opportunities you can provide for them and the key reasons why you believe they are the perfect fit.
4. Review your candidates strategically
While it’s important to be open-minded about experience and backgrounds, you’ll need to be clear on the details you won’t compromise on.
Interviewing someone with five years of sales experience in manufacturing when you’re looking to fill a position in a company that sells property is probably not going to be successful.
Also, engaging someone very junior to fill a role with a lot of responsibility can put undue pressure on both you and the new hire. Taking this risk with your hiring can often lead to a costly failure, no matter how much promise the candidate shows.
You want to find a candidate with a consistent track record and impressive results from previous companies. Just remember to keep in mind that sales is a tough business. Don’t use unexplained gaps in employment and the odd short tenure as an absolute deal-breaker. Ask the candidate for their story. There may be a valid reason.
Be wary of candidates that hail themselves as ‘sales superstars’ without anything tangible to show for it. Instead, focus on the results they have achieved in previous roles. Some candidates may also include a section for sales awards and achievements on their résumé, where they’ll be able to back up any claims with some objective proof.
5. Develop a clear interview process
Make sure you have a structured interview process to follow before you begin. Every company is different, with certain unique requirements, but there’s a standard best practice for interviews comprised of three key stages.
- First and foremost, get things started with an informal chat. Have an icebreaker up your sleeve, or a series of personality-based question to help you and the candidate decide whether they are going to be a good cultural fit.
- Follow this with a more formal meeting, including several key members of the team the potential candidate would be joining. This is an opportunity to ask more pointed and specific questions from all areas of the business.
- Finally, ask the candidate to prepare and deliver a presentation to key stakeholders in the business to give you an opportunity to assess how they perform under pressure. Sales is a division dependant on people that can be persuasive and engaging. That means a presentation can offer you a deeper level of insight into whether the candidate is suitable for the role.
6. Interview the candidate with purpose
Before starting your interviews, consider the qualities you require in the ideal candidate, and design the interview questions in a format that guarantees you the answers and information you need.
Not sure what your list of ideal qualities should include? Check out our article on sales superstar performers, or have a look at the following quick examples of questions you can use to generate the type of answers that make your decision easier:
- Responsibility – Tell me about a big mistake you’ve made in the past. What did you do about it? And what was the outcome?
- Being goal oriented – What do you plan on achieving in your first 3 months of this role?
- High motivation – When was the most recent ‘No’ you got from a prospect? What did you do next?
- Adaptability – Tell me about a time when your boss changed the processes or tools you used. What did you do? And what happened?
- Knowledge of the company – What is it about this company that makes you think you’d be a good fit here?
- Persistence – Tell me about a time you got told ‘No’ but still ended up converting a prospect?
- Time management – When do you know a lead is dead and no longer worth pursuing?
- Trainability – Tell me about something you learned in the last year that you applied to your current sales practices.
- Tools - Are they familiar with the tools you currently use (or similar alternatives)? If your candidate says they are an expert in a tool, ask them a specific question about how they use it. It will help you understand how long you will have to invest in ramping a rep.
7. Make an offer and negotiate
The interview process can take a long time, but the best candidates may well be speaking to other recruiters, so it’s important to keep the lines of communication open.
If you think they may be someone you want to hire, make sure they know you are keen. Keeping candidates in the loop will prevent them from accepting offers elsewhere before you can make an offer of your own. A great salesperson can be judged by their ability to negotiate, and you can see this first-hand when you make them an initial offer.
A superstar salesperson will expertly negotiate the best salary possible. There’s a good chance your candidate may refuse your first offer. In the end, if they can convince you, a seasoned expert in sales, to give them what they want then they may be a perfect fit for your team.
8. Onboarding your new sales hire
Integrating your new salesperson into the team doesn’t happen automatically after the contract is signed. You’ll need to familiarize them with the company culture and help them understand what they’ll need to bring to the table to meet the demands of the business.
There are three things that should happen in the first month of the new starter joining.
- Make sure your new team member understands their objectives and your expectations. If you need them productive by their second month, make this clear, so they can work within your expectations.
- Make sure the salesperson is inducted with training to understand your company and values (your sales team are your first line of representatives, after all).
- Finally, focus on delivering the training required for your new hire to understand your sales process and cover what they need to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
The simple way to manage learning and development for your sales team
After the new candidate has settled and the onboarding process is complete, make sure you keep them challenged and stimulated with online and offline training courses.
Our Sales Pipeline Academy email course is the perfect solution!
The training series consists of 11 bite-sized lessons, and best of all - it’s completely free!
We know that hiring the salespeople you need for your team can be time-consuming and stressful, especially if you’ve hired people in the past that haven’t matched up to your expectations. But follow these eight steps and you’ll bolster your chances of finding the perfect candidates.
And make sure you add our Sales Pipeline Academy as the final step in your training and induction process.