Avoid These 4 Costly Mistakes When Hiring a Sales Team

hiring_a_sales_team

It’s tough to find a good salesperson — especially if you’re selling commodities. And when you’re hiring sales teams, building an entire group of great salespeople seems impossible.

After all, it takes more than good commissions to make a top seller. You can’t just up someone’s pay in hopes they’ll transform into an awesome salesperson. So who are those rare jewels… and how can they start working for you?

Where to Find the Best Salespeople

When it’s time to hire sales associates, where do you start looking? In reality, the best salespeople are already employed. The best way to find a new salesperson is through referrals. Then you have to recruit them, deal with turnover, and try to keep them around.

Those better-than-average salespeople have two qualities.

1. They love to sell. They can’t get enough of the high after they close a deal, so they’re always looking for the next deal to chase. Plenty of people are good salespeople — they are the people that like to close and like chasing a sale. But the great ones love it.

2. They need to sell. The payout needs to be high enough to warrant the work that goes into closing a deal. If someone’s making enough money to be content without closing new deals, they probably won’t.

Top salespeople love and need to sell. Sales is different from account management. Great account managers are more common, but someone who can go into a business, figure out what they need, and follow through with a sale is a gem.

4 Big Mistakes in Your Sales Recruitment Strategy

Great salespeople may be rare, but they’re out there. When it’s time to hire your next salesperson, avoid these mistakes that could keep you from finding (or keeping) a top performer:

1. Hiring Too Quickly

Sometimes we’re so desperate for another salesperson, we rush the process. Instead, take time to find out more about a candidate and how they operate. Ask them about their other jobs and their lead process. Do they have a “No Client Left Behind” process? What do they do after they leave a meeting? What’s their system for follow-up? If they can’t tell you exactly what they do, that’s a red flag. Great salespeople have systems that result in closed deals.

People can busy themselves with 100 different activities that don’t equate to sales. Checking emails, filing papers, and researching software are all good organization practices, but they don’t lead to sales. So find out from the beginning if they know how to engage in activities that lead to sales, like meetings and phone calls.

2. Poor Compensation Structure

Structure your compensation in such a way that salespeople need to sell and are well-rewarded when they do. If you have a salesperson that loves to close deals, but makes plenty of money after a few big successes, their motivation takes a nosedive. So look at various pay structures to offer enough incentive to motivate your sellers.

Related: How Much Should You Really Compensate Your Salespeople?

3. Inadequate Training

Sometimes we either skimp on the training so people can get to the field, or we train so much on the product that we forget to train on the sales process. Make sure you train in the things that matter for closing deals — activity levels, how to qualify a prospect, and follow-up.

People need to know what types of work lead to sales and what to look for in a product. They also need to understand the real value of doing business with your company. What problem does the product solve? When they understand and believe in the narrative of how this solution changes things, sales happen.

They don’t need to know everything, but they definitely need enough info to identify the opportunities and solve business problems.

Related: How to Cut Your Sales Training in Half and Improve Retention

4. Lack of Accountability

We all need accountability. Even the best salespeople work more productively when they know they’ll have to answer for their schedule. So keep your team on target with their quotas. Monitor their activity and check in when the numbers are off. Some people ask their sales team to enter activities into a CRM at the end of the week, but it’s much easier to use an automated CRM like CallProof. Then your team just logs their activities with the push of a button. They’re incentivized to stay on track, and you see who’s really meeting their goals.

Hiring mistakes cost you revenue. They drain your time and distract from potential sales. So when you find the right person, don’t let them slip through the cracks. Do the prep work up front in your hiring, pay structure, training, and reporting to keep the best salespeople working for you.

3 Ways to Increase Sales Without Hiring a New Salesperson

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Improving your sales team comes at a cost. But what if you could pay for it in time you’re spending elsewhere rather than the actual price of hiring a new salesperson?

An increase in sales productivity doesn’t have to mean hiring another person — sometimes it just means using the team you have more efficiently.

So what do productive sales teams do? Collectively, they increase their market share. You want your business to gain as much of the market share as possible. The company’s success depends on it. Highly effective sales teams also create “sticky” clients. Once you onboard a customer, they won’t slip away to your competitors. When you’re highly productive, you’re able to do more for your clients than anyone else.

So, if you’re a sales manager looking to make your team more effective, here are three tips that can boost your productivity.

Tip #1: Play to Your Strengths

Here’s a secret: a highly productive sales team comes from highly productive individuals. When each salesperson is working efficiently in their area of strength, the team becomes a more productive force. Then you’re able to do more with less.

It’s important to understand role distinction. Someone who’s great at finding new business may be horrible at following through with account management. So rather than trying to solve the problem by giving each person fewer accounts, separate the roles. Then you may not need more people and you can give each person a more specific job.

The sales job consists of three different roles: hunters, farmers, and account managers. Ideally, people work only in their area of strength. People who are great at connecting with prospects and closing deals are hunters. Farmers then cultivate those relationships and onboard customers. Then another person manages the accounts in the long term. Usually, individuals who do best in each of those phases aren’t the same people. If your company is big enough, you’ll divide those job responsibilities for the best results. Your hunters find new business, farmers bring them home, and account managers keep them around. When people have specific roles, they become experts at their work. They’re more efficient, and customers stick around because their experience is so good.

Related: The Average Salesperson Wastes 2 Hours a Day — Here’s Why

Tip #2: Create Systems, Not Cycles

Systems boost productivity too. Sales managers usually notice the need for a system from fluctuating sales cycles. If sales aren’t consistent, even after you factor in the time of year and the product, a system may be your solution.

Maybe you have a top salesperson with a great month, but then two bad months follow. Once you dig a little deeper, you’ll find those salespeople have created a cycle for themselves. They focus on prospecting one month, appointments the next month, and then on closing deals.

But you want them on a system, not in a cycle.

If prospecting, appointments, and closes can happen at the same time, months won’t rise and fall. Instead, sales will steadily increase. So help them find a routine of scheduling time for each of their tasks. Rather than spending an entire month prospecting, help them designate specific time weekly for working on each task.

Tip #3: Use Sales Productivity Tools

Rather than adding personnel when you need to up your productivity, use tools that maximize effectiveness. An app like CallProof keeps people accountable to the systems you set and makes their job easier with follow-up reminders, a database of prospects, and easy note-taking. It helps each salesperson maintain a system of prospecting and follow up on a pre-scheduled basis so that they can close deals year-round.

The right tools can also help people schedule their time more efficiently. Think of an account manager who only visits current clients. Let’s say they visit a customer on Tuesday. On Thursday, they go back to the same area to see another customer. They’ve just wasted hours. But if the account manager looks at client assets and group visits together to save time, they become significantly more efficient. Then you’re positioned to grow and scale more quickly. And that kind of efficiency becomes much easier with the right tools.

Tools can also help you measure productivity. As a manager, it’s tempting to use closed deals as your only measure of effectiveness. But there’s more to it. Instead, measure activity. Use an app that tracks real-time activity. When you see how many prospects someone meets, how many phone calls they make, and how many meetings they have, you’ll know how productive they are. So focus on the numbers. Activities lead to sales. You can fix the details later if necessary, but the key is getting the numbers up.

The tools you need to improve aren’t far-fetched. They can be right at your fingertips with an app like CallProof. If you have the right people in the right roles, the right tools will skyrocket their success.

 

When Is the Right Time to Hire Your Next Salesperson?

You’ve hired your first salesperson, and business is going well. But you know the only way to grow your revenue is to find more prospects. And the best way to do that is hiring a salesperson. So is it time for you to make your next hire?

Consider the Demand for A New Salesperson

First, consider your supply and demand. If you have enough supply, then you need more demand. Maybe the demand just needs to be notified that you have the supply.

In B2B sales, this usually requires a representative — a person who knows all the features of the products. This rep can show your product to prospects, answering their questions and teaching them how it works for their organization. So how do you find more demand?

1. ID the Marketplace

What type of prospect is your salesperson missing? One person can’t reach your whole market. So identify the areas they aren’t reaching.

2. Segment the Field

Then decide how to divide the territory. Do you want to segment your salespeople based on types of industries, types of sales, size of the organization, or location?

3. Run the Numbers

Hire the right number of salespeople to reach your market. On average, a sales rep should have about 500 prospects to target in a year. So, if your marketplace has 2,000 prospects, you’ll need four strong salespeople.

Are You Ready for Another Sales Rep?

Before you hire your second salesperson, ask yourself these questions.

1. How many prospects are there?

Run the numbers to calculate your prospect to salesperson ratio. Remember 500:1 is the average ratio. If you only have 50 prospects, you don’t need another sales rep.

2. What’s the buying frequency?

Your specific ratio will vary based on the product and sales cycle. If you’re selling a commodity that’s needed every month, you’ll need more salespeople. After all, you have multiple opportunities to sell to the same client. If you have a contractual service where clients sign up for a year or two (i.e. health insurance or satellite providers), you may not need as many reps.

3. Can you afford to hire two salespeople?

Add to your sales team in pairs. Don’t just hire one person at a time. Instead, hire two, knowing you’ll only keep one. Only rarely will they sell the same amount. Rather, one will overachieve — and you’ll know who’s better. It’s easy to see a winner and a loser when they do the same work.

And, if you hire two competitive people, they’ll win over tons of business trying to beat each other.

How to Hire Salespeople Starting Up

If you’re just starting your business, don’t hire only one person. Hire as many as you can afford for the first two months. If you hire just one person, it’s tough to gauge how well they’re doing. You’re going to go through sales reps anyway. So begin with too many reps, and you’re more likely to find that rock star salesperson early on.

The Sales Manager’s Guide to Working With Millennials

sales manager guide working with millennials

Remember the “Fragile Egg” experiment? Back in Home-Ec class (before the days of automated baby-dolls), students babied an egg for a week. We prepared a shoe box, put tissue in it, and carried a raw egg around hoping no one would bump into us and break it.

Well, that’s what it often feels like to employ a millennial. Delicate. Stepping ever-so-carefully so you don’t “break” them.

Millennial salespeople aren’t always this fragile—everyone is different, of course—but certain issues seem to come up more with this age group. If you want to successfully hire and manage millennial salespeople, here’s your guide to millennials in the workplace.

Challenges to Working With Millennials

My generation grew up with our own struggles and our own challenges. It was the ‘80s. We worked at one job, we didn’t have the internet, and we had to figure out a lot of things on our own. Maybe that’s why millennials can seem hard to manage. We were raised in different worlds. But working together can work if we know how to bridge those differences.

Most of the challenges that come with millennials in the workplace center on the phone. Why? For one, phones bring distractions, and distractions keep people from selling. With incessant buzzing that delivers information, updates, and conversation, it’s difficult to focus on the job at hand.

Start by coaching salespeople who struggle with these distractions. Suggest they cut the problem off at the source by turning off notifications for anything not work-related during the work day. Then, rather than having to resist the temptation to check the chime, they can keep their mind on work.

Millennials also face the challenge of using the phone differently. Their phone use has little to do with talking, and much more with text and emojis. Back in the ‘80s, if you wanted to ask someone out, you called and navigated the nuances of conversation. Now, you swipe left. That being said, millennials may have great potential for phone conversations, but they lack experience. They need you to teach them how to make calls because it’s just not a skill they’ve had to develop.

Top Strategies for Everyday Management

With a predicted 3 out of 4 workers being millennials by 2025, you’ll be hiring one in the not-so-distant future if you haven’t already. And with an average cost of $24K to replace each millennial, you’ll want to make sure you hire the right ones.

Beyond coaching employees in phone use, these three strategies will equip you for navigating your sales manager responsibilities with millennials.

1. Find Their Motivation

Good salespeople want, even need, to prove themselves. When you hire anyone, figure out why they want to work there. Do they want to earn money? If you’re in a performance-driven workplace, that’s who you want to hire. Do they want to be the best? When they see sales stats posted, you want the person who does whatever it takes to be number one.

If you find someone who just wants the flexibility of a sales position, they’re probably not the right fit. 89% of millennials prefer to choose when and where they work rather than working a 9-to-5 job. Make sure the self-directed schedule isn’t the only reason they’ve applied.

2. Encourage a Friendly Culture

Millennials thrive in a relational workplace. They crave the real-world community and a place to belong. So foster a culture of friendship during the workday and after hours. Form a team in a kickball league, or do something else that gets everyone outdoors and active.

In regular operations, change up the sales teams and leaders so people get to know each other. Some companies have Friday lunch together. They all eat together at a certain place and time, and some even cater lunch for the whole office once a month.

Your goal is to facilitate conversations people wouldn’t naturally have. When people (of any generation) feel like they belong to their organization, the benefits abound. They take less time off, they find more motivation, and they stay there longer. It’s really a win for everyone.

3. Balance Criticism With Compliments

Most people don’t enjoy conflict, but it’s particularly avoided by millennials. You’ll inevitably have critiques for your younger employees, so phrase it intentionally and put the criticism in context.  

When I have a new hire, I let them know, “You’ll make lots of mistakes and that’s okay. It’s my job to give you feedback, so you can be the absolute best salesperson.”

Then, when I have criticism, I balance it with compliments. In fact, make the positives outweigh negatives. For every one critique, give seven compliments. This works to soften the blow criticism delivers. It’s not just constructive criticism you want, it’s contextual criticism.

When you hire the right people, shape your office climate, and critique carefully, you’ll help your millennial salespeople find success. Millennials are the most educated generation in American history. And with the right management, they can be a great addition to your sales team.

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Top 4 Ways to Evaluate a Salesperson’s Performance

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Evaluating a salesperson’s performance is one of the basic responsibilities of a sales manager. It’s also essential to company success. But how can you do it when sales cycles vary so greatly?

If it takes months to close a sale, do you have to wait until those numbers post to see how your sales team is doing? In short, no. A salesperson’s performance is about more than sales. By tracking these vital signs of sales health, you can measure the success of your team in as little as a week.

The Best Ways to Gauge Success

1. Track Number of Appointments, Calls, and Emails

This is a quick measure of how many connections each salesperson makes day to day. Sales is a numbers game. If you have employees making the calls, sending the emails, and visiting prospects in high volume, their sales will come in high too.

Related: Sales Managers: How To Get Over Micromanaging Your Salespeople

Especially focus on the number of booked appointments. The best sales people use those appointments to get referrals. An increased number of face-to-face meetings almost always indicates a higher potential for success.

2. Qualify Prospects

Salespeople have to quantify booked appointments with qualified prospects. Appointments with people outside the targeted buyer demographic won’t get them far. On paper, they’ll look like they’re doing the job. However, if they aren’t booking the right appointments, they won’t make the sales.

When you’re evaluating their success, consider who the appointments are with. Once you find a value to place on their prospects, you’ll more realistically gauge their performance.

3. Implement a Training Program With an Observer

Set up triangulated sales situations to evaluate your sales team. Create a scenario where the salesperson pitches to a pretend client (played by another salesperson).

Either another salesperson or the sales manager observes the interaction. The client brings up objections and plays hard to get. Then the observer gives feedback about what goes right and wrong during the pitch. This gives you a means of observation and shows salespeople where to improve.

4. Record Sales Calls and Demos

Management needs to record and listen to every sales demonstration and call. Your organization spends good money to book demos, either buying leads or running pay-to-click campaigns. If you’re not intentional, you could have an unqualified salesperson trying to close these hard-earned pitches.

Related: The 4 Biggest Mistakes A Sales Manager Can Make

Listen back to each recording so you can identify the key phases that secure (or kill) sales. As you listen to your sales team, ask yourself, “How do they effectively build rapport? Are they talking to qualified prospects?” In doing so, you’ll separate your top sellers from the ones sabotaging deals.

After You Evaluate a Salesperson

Now that you have the info, use these assessments to boost your sales. Assign point values to the number of calls, face-to-face meetings, quality of prospects, training scenarios, and recorded pitches. Then use those points, combined with actual sales numbers, to rank your salespeople.

Once you know where each member on your team stands, give additional training where it’s needed. If someone’s main struggle is phrasing the pitch, work on semantics. If they’re not booking the right type of prospect, identify key characteristics of the target client.

If a lead comes in tomorrow, who are you going to give it to? The struggling sales rep that doesn’t follow procedure, or the person who considers ROI and follows through? Once you have the data, the choice is obvious.

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How to Create Your Own Sales Training Portal With Podcasts

podcast sales training portal

A growing company creates problems. In sales, your team plays a central role in that growth – and in creating problems. As the business expands, no longer can you, the owner, spend time mentoring each employee. So how do you continue to provide quality training to all employees?  The answer is simple: a custom built sales training portal using podcasts.

I ran into this problem when I started expanding my wireless stores. I wanted to maintain the culture I had worked so hard to create, but couldn’t possibly meet with each sales rep. Enter my solution: A sales training portal. By creating a library of training podcasts, I gave each employee access to the information they needed to be successful in our company. Consequently, this also boosted our success as a whole.

Why Podcasts?

Podcasts are simple. All you need is a phone or computer that records audio, which comes standard on nearly every device. There’s no need for high-end video equipment, backdrops, and editing professionals. You don’t need “fancy” visuals that, in reality, never end up looking as good as you expected. Podcasts get to the point by allowing you to have a “conversation” of sorts with your salespeople.  

RelatedHow To Effectively Train Millennial Salespeople

Podcasts are also consistent. When you’re taking on new hires, you want to make sure they get access to all the information they need. When you train someone face-to-face, you may give a different spiel from one person to the next, or you may leave out an example that would have resonated with the trainee. Worse, you may delegate the training to someone else and they may change the content itself.

Instead, try this: Make a list of everything it takes for a person to be successful. Paint the story of a day in the life of a top salesperson in your company. Organize your topics, jotting down notes of stories you want to tell and examples you want to give. Then, record yourself explaining this “day in the life” piece on your computer. That recording then becomes your first training podcast for employees.

How Can You Use Podcasts in Your Sales Training Portal?

Podcasts give new hires access to your strategies while also giving current salespeople the chance to learn. You may want to make a podcast that talks about objections to the sale. I learned from Jack Daly that most products only have 10 objections. Successful salespeople handle those objections the same with every client.

For your second podcast, sit down with the top 2 sales reps in your company and ask them how they handle the top 10 objections. For example, when a client says the price is too high, how do they reply? Once you capture their responses on an audio file, your sales team can learn how to navigate those obstacles from the best.

As you record, use stories to your advantage. Podcasts aren’t the medium for technical information, but they work well for relationship selling advice. Stories allow you to show how sales theories work in the real world. Once people hear how you applied a strategy, they can better conceptualize how they might use it in their own sales.

Related: How To Hire Salespeople Within Your Budget

For example, your top salespeople recounting their “Top 10 Deals and How They Found Them” could make a great piece. Maybe they share stories of talking to someone at the gym or grocery that ended up in a sale, or maybe a spouse’s friend referred them a client. These examples connect the dots so green employees can see where prospects fit in their world.

When to Listen

The beauty of podcasts is that they live forever. They also can live just about anywhere. Once you save your audio recording like a podcast, your team can listen to it in the car, at the gym, and wherever else they end up in their daily lives. In fact, an ambitious new hire may listen to everything you have before their first day.

To encourage use of the sales training portal, create an email drip for new hires. Gradually feed them these files over their first few weeks to get them in the routine of listening. For general salesperson training, consider giving them a one-hour recording each week. Then, have sales managers give a quiz at the end of the week to hold them accountable.

We all value a “lifelong learner” in the workplace. Why not make that learning so much more accessible? We’re not talking about PowerPoints and conference rooms anymore. We’re dealing with presentations that keep your attention in the middle of rush hour.

Imagine a brand new employee coming into the office with 20 hours of audio training. Think about the culture of a place where people are striving to get better at their jobs even when they’re on the treadmill. That’s what a sales training portal can do for you.

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4 Great Podcast Episodes to Include in Your Onboarding Process

Of course, we won’t leave you without some solid recommendations on podcast episodes you can include in your onboarding. These episodes will teach your new hire a few tricks to set her on the path to success.

The Startup Chat #14: Cold Email

This amazingly actionable podcast hosted by Steli Efti (Founder of Close.io) and Hiten Shah (Founder of KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg) focuses mostly on startup topics, but that doesn’t mean you can’t glean useful insights from the very experienced hosts. In this episode of the podcast they talk about cold emailing leads and few people are as successful at this as Steli Efti.

Advanced Selling Podcast #321: Networking Tips For Salespeople

The Advanced Selling Podcast hosted by Bryan Neale and Bill Caskey has been going on for over 300 episodes without losing steam. Here’s one great episode on networking and we all could do with more of that – right?

Salesman.red Podcast: When is The Best Time to Close The Sale? With Tibor Shanto

Another excellent podcast stock-full of interviews with interesting guests. Listen to this episode on getting the timing right for closing the sale.

The Sales Evangelist #231: Learn to Use LinkedIn & Sell More

Leveraging your social media presence – and especially LinkedIn – can send your sales soaring. In this episode of the brilliant podcast “The Sales Evangelist” you’ll learn how.

 

How To Hire Salespeople Within Your Budget

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“How do I hire salespeople within my budget?”

If you’re asking this question, it’s likely you have some doubts. There are customers out there who want to buy your product, and you know you need to reach them, but are you really ready to hire a salesperson?

Start by thinking through these questions to determine your approach and what type of person you need to make the sale.

  • How can you reach the potential customers?
  • Will you be calling them or out in the field driving the business?
  • Do you have access to the customers?
  • Can you make personal contact with them?

If you’ve answered those questions and hiring a new salesperson is still the goal, use these steps to stay in budget and find a salesperson who will be a great fit for your organization.

First Things First

Sell Your Product

As the owner or founder, you have the passion to make the business work and the most to lose if it doesn’t. If you can’t sell your product, you can’t expect someone else to. By being in the field yourself, you’ll learn what it takes to make a sale in your industry and can pass that knowledge on to a sales team, saving time and money in the future.

Check Out The Competition

Use your competitors’ sales process to help decide if a salesperson is your best approach. Do they have an effective sales team? Connect on LinkedIn with the competitions’ former employees and take them out for coffee. Talking with them grants significant insight into what works and what doesn’t. You may find that salespeople haven’t been effective in your industry and can go another route for your company. Or if the sales approach works, these connections may pave the way for future hires.

Time to Hire

If you lack time to manage or have more interest in your product than you can handle, that’s a good sign you need extra help. The obvious solution is to hire a salesperson, but if you’re great at selling, play to your strengths and keep selling. Hiring a manager may work better for your situation, especially if you’re unsure about how to run a business. Then, you can keep being face of the product and pass on your enthusiasm to your client and sales team.

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Determining What to Pay

When you hire another salesperson, you must determine the value of your clients to set a pay rate. Figure out the value of the target clients. Your salesperson should cost about 30% of the total sale. For example, if a client brings in $100, $30 should go towards the salesperson’s salary, commissions, training, and healthcare.

Working Within Your Budget

Compare the 30% rule with the going rate in your industry. Use www.getraised.com or, if you’re in a unique market, talk to others in the same market to gauge how much they earn. This will help you set a reasonable budget. Remember, it takes time for these numbers to pay off. Initially, you’ll lose money due the time it takes the new salesperson to ramp up, learn a sales approach, and complete a sales cycle. The sooner you can figure out your sales strategy, the sooner you can duplicate it and start earning a profit.

Before you hire, you have to grow your budget to a point that you can afford the initial loss involved in a new hire. If you have a six months sales cycle, add a couple of months as an insurance policy.

Gauging Success Early On

As soon as you bring on a salesperson, set up daily activity reporting so you can see if they are on track or not. You want the money you’re spending to be worthwhile. Knowing the data of a successful salesperson helps tremendously with this.

In the case of someone in office equipment sales, the industry standard is about 40 visits a day for successful sales. New salespeople should be on track with these numbers to meet their goals. Automated activity reports, like those on CallProof, will indicate whether the new hire is putting in the work to be successful long-term.

Investment vs. Budget

Remember, salespeople are investments. There’s a big difference between budget and investment: Budget is what you have to work with and investment is the long-term pay-off. Determining what customers to reach, who you need to hire, and potential profit balances the value of your investment against a realistic budget.

Recruiting New Salespeople? Don’t Skip These Steps.

recruiting new salespeople

It’s time to re-evaluate the way you hire.

Even if your hiring strategy is just a few years old, you’re likely missing out on valuable prospects. Hiring great salespeople in 2015 requires tapping into the potential talents of the emerging younger generation. This new generation of millennial salespeople has different qualities and skills, and they’re seeking jobs that go beyond just making money.

Don’t miss out on the exact employees you want to attract, and don’t just assume they can do what they say. Make these 5 steps the foundation of your hiring process.

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1. Make the sale.

Evaluating prospects is no longer enough. Before you start rating prospective salespeople, you need to sell your organization in a way that attracts potential employees.

If we want to raise the bar in our workplaces, the Millennial generation requires us to change the way we hire. They want social recognition and added benefits in the quality of their work environment. Money is important, but it’s not the only focus. Prospective employees should understand why their new role is important, what your organization stands for and what they can earn in the future.

2. Conduct a thorough interview. (Then follow-up.)

Did they do any pre-interview research? Ask what they know about your organization.

Do they really know how to have a conversation with strangers? Ask them to share stories about using their strengths during a difficult sales pitch.

Make a list of the traits you value in your best salespeople and see if your candidates respond in the same way your top associates would.

After you conduct an interview, it’s time to start searching. That candidate seems great, but can they really do what they say? Call the prospect’s references. Do their bosses or previous co-workers have good things to say? Do their stories match up?

Finding a mutual contact is another useful tool. Perform a simple LinkedIn search to connect with someone else in your field who knows the job seeker. They can offer another perspective about the person’s character and habits.

3. Test them.

Sometimes the evidence you find about a candidate’s work performance is ambiguous. In this case, it’s time for a trial run. You need to determine exactly how the new employee performs in the unique conditions of your workplace.

There are a few ways to do this. First, you can hire them at a competitive rate for one week-long project. Tell them if you’re satisfied with their work, they’ll earn the opportunity to take a long-term position at your company. Another option is to have the new person shadow a current employee. See how well they interact with your staff members and how they react to your working conditions. If the trial goes well, you can invite them to more official training sessions.

These methods will help you avoid wasting time and money in training someone who lacks the fundamental qualities you’re looking for.

4. Observe their performance.

Once you decide a to conduct a trial run, be sure to follow up on your candidate’s performance. If you really want to know how effective they are, call up their last few successful sales.

Ask for honest feedback about the customer’s impressions of the salesperson and if they did everything that they promised. Next, ask your trial salesperson who they felt their best customers were and why — contact them too if you haven’t already. This method allows you to see if your new prospect is making the right impressions in the field.

5. Choose experienced applicants when possible.

If you really want to get the best new employees, it’s always safer to pick someone who has at least two years of experience in sales. Inexperienced people can still become valuable assets to your business, but the risk of choosing the wrong person is much higher. If they don’t have a minimum two years of successful sales experience, be careful taking a chance on them.

Hiring Sales People That Succeed with Robert Hartline

robert hartline tropical podcast

Recently I had the honor of being interviewed by Josh Denning on the Tropical Entrepreneur podcast! We had a great time chatting sales and specifically, talking about some of my best strategies for hiring great salespeople.

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Here are a few things we covered:

  • How to make the best use of your time.
  • Things to consider before you start building a sales team.
  • The #1 thing that most organization should spend their energy on.
  • 3 things that matter when managing sales people.
  • Effective process of hiring a sales person.
  • How to train your sales people.

You can listen to the whole episode HERE.

OR download it on iTunes HERE.

If this is the first time you’ve heard of the Tropical Entrepreneur podcast, I’d highly recommend checking out some of their other episodes. Josh talks with some amazing entrepreneurs and the content is excellent.

Hiring Tips For The Salesperson Interview Process

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Finding good salespeople is a difficult task. Finding good salespeople without a specific goal in mind is almost impossible.

Before you can hire the right salesperson, you have to know what you’re looking for. Don’t waste time hiring the wrong person because of a lack of direction. You need a target. Then, when you do hire someone, you can confidently spend resources on training and ensure a return on investment.

Which kind of salesperson do you need?

You know you need a target, but what should you aim for? To get the right salesperson in place, you must first know if you want a farmer or a hunter.

  • Hunters are constantly pounding the pavement, looking for new “game.” If your salespeople need to knock on doors and gather prospects, day in and day out,  you want a hunter.
  • Farmers have less of an attacking nature and more of a nurturing spirit. They often care for a few select, high-end clients. They spend their time dealing with large corporate clients and maintain a close relationship with those organizations.

Once you’ve determined the type of salesperson you’re looking for, use that information to direct your selection process and evaluate the applicants.

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Transaction Volume

Transaction volume is a useful item to check when vetting a new salesperson. Not only does it give you an idea of the type of salesperson they are, it also lets you know what they’re capable of. If a person has had success with larger volumes of transactions, there’s a good chance he’ll duplicate that success within your company. It’s hard to prove a high transactional value so this factor doesn’t always hold entirely true, but there’s a way to prove whether they have already cut their teeth, and if they’re resume is true or not — through this innovative interview process.

The Interview

To get the right candidate in place you need to successfully navigate the salesperson interview process. I highly recommend an extended interview program. Ditch the one-hour sit-down meeting. Instead, talk to potential candidates and select a team that will move forward to the next step: a two-week trial run.

During the extended interview, or trial run, put these candidates through the paces. Give them a list of businesses to visit. Watch them do prospecting in action. Don’t invest much in showing them the ropes or training. What you’re looking for is their ability to “hunt” and endurance for a high volume of transactions.

How do you know who’s successful and worth hiring? The good ones will be able to snag a meeting with the sales manager.

Another tip: Don’t waste good prospects on this group. Send them on assignment to low-quality prospects from which you don’t expect to generate business. Once you’ve identified who has the drive and motivation to ensure, you can start investing in training.

Don’t waste your valuable resources training subpar salespeople. Save yourself time, money, and lots of headaches with a carefully vetted hiring and interview process, and you can be sure that your salespeople have what it takes to succeed.

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