Hiring a sales rep is one of the biggest challenges organizations regularly face. In this Sales Secrets episode, Neal Benedict shares some tips on how to streamline your hiring process and make sure you only get the best talent. Read on to find out more.
In this article:
- Challenges of Hiring a Sales Rep
- Get Your Hiring Strategy on Paper
- Always Be Recruiting
- Screen out Unqualified Candidates Quickly
- Don’t Only Rely on the Interview
- Create a Scoring System
How to Master the Art of Hiring a Sales Rep
Neal Benedict is the current president of Silver Brick Solutions, a sales consulting firm based in Houston. He focuses on developing successful sales teams for small businesses in three key areas: people, process, and tools.
He helps the organizations he consults with to build a strong sales foundation and enables them to stand on their own and be successful. Outside of work, he volunteers for the American Corporate Partnerships (ACP), an organization that transitions military veterans to private sector work.
Challenges of Hiring a Sales Rep
It’s important to have a regular pipeline of sales talent coming in and to develop them to what organizations ultimately look for in hiring salespeople.
Most organizations use a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to hiring a sales representative. What works in hiring IT managers or HR employees may not exactly work for hiring and retaining sales reps though.
Salespeople are a unique breed when it comes to hiring and training. The challenges in this aspect are especially apparent in smaller companies that may not have a lot of resources to hire new people.
Get Your Hiring Strategy on Paper
The first step is to get things in writing so you have something to refer back to during the process.
Most of the time, organizations don’t even have a clear process for sourcing and recruiting, especially small businesses without the recruiting machine a Fortune 500 company may have.
What is sourcing? The act of looking for potential candidates to fill a talent pool. These are things like posting job descriptions, tapping into personal networks, and incentivizing employee referrals.
Recruiting happens once the organization fills the pool and starts going through the candidates. This includes the interview, the panel discussions, and ultimately the job offer.
This is a challenging and time-consuming effort. Establishing your recruitment process is critical so you get the best candidates and filter out people who aren’t a good fit.
These companies do their sourcing and recruiting the traditional way, like posting on social media sites like LinkedIn or other job boards. Some tap into their personal networks, but unless there are sales leaders within the organization, sourcing enough quality candidates is a challenge.
Always Be Recruiting
Most good sales reps aren’t actively job-hunting. You need to find them ones before they’re ready for their next step if you want a chance to get them into your organization.
Always be recruiting and on the lookout for great candidates. Once you’re at the point where it’s necessary to post a job description, it’s already too late for new hires to impact your growth in the timeframe you desire.
Set-up your CRM to put contact information for candidates you want to keep warm. Reach out to them regularly and create a drip campaign. This lets them know you’re interested in having them for future opportunities.
Treat your hiring pool much like your prospecting pool in the sales cycle. Continually engage people who are a good fit, and make sure you’re always doing some level of communication.
RELATED: Why You Need Data-Driven Hiring…NOW!
Screen out Unqualified Candidates Quickly
Small businesses try to qualify as many people as possible to their hiring pipeline due to the limited amount of time and resources they have. This consumes a lot of time and manpower.
Filter out as much of the unqualified candidates as you can so you’re left with the ones that have a chance of making a positive impact in your organization.
Here are some things you can use to assess your prospective sales rep:
- Communication skills
- What motivates them to look for a new opportunity
- General fit for the role
You can do a 15-minute phone call with the candidate to assess these things and decide if they don’t make the cut. You can also add a longer behavioral-based interview to sort out more people.
Don’t Only Rely on the Interview
Once you’ve done all your phone screens, you can move on to those who make it to the formal process. Sales reps (at least the good ones) are good at making people comfortable around them and can quickly establish rapport with whoever they’re talking to.
If you’re just going through the interview questions, you’re missing out on a lot of things you need to measure their sales experience on. It’s important to make quick decisions, but it’s even more important to make the right decisions.
Take them through a case study to assess their problem-solving skills. Have them do a sales presentation of any product or service to understand how they engage clients.
You can even throw in a psychometric test to learn what makes them tick. This makes it easier for you to know what you need to train them on and if you have the skillset within the organization to do so.
Create a Scoring System
Design a standard rubric that can be segmented from a sales skills standpoint. Here are some things you can measure in your scoring system:
- How they uncover problems clients have
- The way they structure their day
- Work ethic
- Having the “One More Call” mentality
Make sure the people on your interview team can measure these things repeatedly to have a reliable basis on how to score your candidates and compare results. Otherwise, it boils down to people hiring sales representatives based on how much they like the person.
While someone’s personality and how they gel with others is an important aspect to consider, it doesn’t make for a very objective assessment and is unfair to your candidates.
Hiring a sales rep need not be rocket science. With a smooth and standard process in place, you get higher chances of hiring the best talent in your pipeline and the best fit for your organization’s needs.
What do you look for when hiring a sales rep? What does your ideal candidate look like? Let us know in the comments section below.