I have found over the past 25 years of guiding hundreds of flourishing companies in hiring the best sales professionals, there are several things that successful leaders do in hiring sales professionals that other leaders don’t do. I will share them here over the next several blogs to get you started in the right direction. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I’d be more than happy to talk about your individual challenges.
The first step is to identify what you want in a sales professional. Do you understand what key skills will be required in the person you hire? There are many types of successful sales professionals in the market, but that doesn’t mean they will be successful in your organization. Most leaders tend to hire people like themselves. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. Many entrepreneurs are very successful sales people in their own right. They tend to want someone just like themselves without considering what key factors are involved in the job if they are not doing it. Many leaders are very good at building sales at the beginning of their business because they are offering a new product to the market. The way you sell products when they first become available is different than how you sell when you begin facing the competition. Many early sales are unprofitable, but when owners look back on their early success they fail to remember this.
Many entrepreneurs fail to find the right sales professional because they don’t identify the key success factors in their organizations’ success. For example, they need a person with prior experience selling in a market similar to theirs. They may hire a sales professional who comes from a larger competitor without realizing the selling circumstances for the individual was completely different. It’s one thing for a sales professional to get an appointment with a potential client when they work for IBM. It’s another thing entirely when they represent a startup organization. Do you know how to position your product in comparison to your competition? Do you know who is the right person is to call on for your product or services? Do you have current clients in their industry? Most successful sales professionals are good because they are able to target their efforts to the right clients and decision makers. They have a finely tuned understanding of how to find these clients and how to take them through a sales process. If you’re unclear about your target, it could take your sales professional longer to achieve the success you expect. During the interview process you should try to uncover who the sales professional would try to sell your products and services to at first. Ask for specific examples and why they think these organizations would be good potential clients. Take time to discover who the sales person would call on but also why they would chose these clients. How does it match up with your current clients and future customers?
To increase your hiring success, develop a target client profile that will help you and your potential sales professionals understand the type of clients you want them to acquire during the initial stages of their working with you. I’ve found most midmarket organizations struggle to identify the type of clients they want to add to their customer base. They leave it up to the sales professional who spends significant time chasing clients who don’t fit or aren’t profitable clients for their businesses. When you are a small business you may have been able to be less selective in your customer acquisition process but as you continue to grow, you will need to become more focused on what type of clients your business can serve best.
To achieve hiring success, the more time you invest in understanding your business, the more success you will have in hiring the right sales professional. This initial research will help you better understand your business and will also allow for increased success in hiring the right individual at the right time. A bad sales hire can cost your organization between $300,000 and $1,000,000. It is critical to begin with a strong understanding of what business development skills you need in your next sales hire. This information will also help your current sales team succeed as well. I’ve used sales meetings to develop this material in the past and have been very surprised how it positively impacted my current sales team’s efforts, as well.
Next week we will talk about how to develop and interview guide that will help you structure your interview process for success.