In this podcast, I talk to sales recruitment expert Dr. Christopher Croner about how to bring the best team members onboard and boost team productivity by adopting a more effective hiring process backed up by science, data, and proven techniques.
In this article:
- The Importance of Adopting a Data-Driven Hiring Process
- About My Guest — Christopher Croner, Principal of Sales Drive Test
- Why Do Sales Managers Find It Hard to Hire Team Members?
- Why Are Sales Managers Behind in Data-Driven Hiring?
- What to Look for in a Territory Hunter?
- Do Different Roles Need Different Traits?
- What’s a Good Way to Measure Drive?
- Is It Correct to Use Top-Performers As the Benchmark?
- Why Do Leaders Fail to Adopt This Type of Concept in Hiring?
- Finding the Balance in Hiring
- The Importance of Using an Assessment Program
Boosting Team Productivity and Sales with Data-Driven Hiring
The Importance of Adopting a Data-Driven Hiring Process
The use of a data-driven hiring process is a hot topic in the industry and one that will benefit human resources or HR, which tends to be behind other departments in terms of performance. Luckily, we have Dr. Christopher Croner, principal at Sales Drive Test, to tell us more about making correct hiring decisions to build an effective, productive sales team.
About My Guest — Christopher Croner, Principal of Sales Drive Test
Spearheaded by Croner, Sales Drive Test helps companies hire and develop candidates for hunter sales position. They do this by providing a recruiter or hiring manager with an online assessment tool they can use to conduct a more productive interview.
Hunter Definition: In sales, a hunter is someone in charge of prospecting and finding new sales opportunities. They give the farmers clients to build good, lasting relationships with.
Croner boasts unrivaled knowledge in conducting personality tests, interviews, and intelligence exams. In fact, he has studied and helped almost a thousand companies in the past decade and a half.
Why Do Sales Managers Find It Hard to Hire Team Members?
Every sales manager and employer knows to focus on boosting sales and productivity, but not many actually think about the hiring process.
Here are three common issues in sales recruitment:
1. No Hiring Process
Croner states that the reason sales managers find it hard to get productive sales agents or hunters is their lack of a decent hiring process.
Agency managers usually get as many people onboard during the application process and review every resume they get from local job listings. At the end of the year, some will stay and some will leave – and sales managers just assume that’s the way it really is.
What sales managers should do is follow an effective step-by-step process to guide them through everything from job postings to final interviews.
2. Using the Same Hiring Process
Even if the hiring group did have a process for screening applicants, a lot of them simply reuse the same formula regardless of which position a candidate is applying for. Keep in mind that your step-by-step program should vary depending on the position at hand.
You can’t screen hunter candidates using the same hiring process you used when looking for great developers, right? Sales managers should work with special hiring authorities such as Sales Drive Test to create flexible, detailed hiring processes for their HR department.
3. Not Asking the Right Questions
When looking for hunters, sales managers often look for charming people they can easily talk to. They usually ask questions geared toward their preference.
However, managers should remember that they’re interviewing sales veterans. A lot of salespeople can carry and present themselves well during an interview.
In fact, there are plenty of books that would help these candidates learn how to nail any interview process. With that in mind, sales managers shouldn’t solely ask questions that would determine how well their communication and relationship skills are.
Why Are Sales Managers Behind in Data-Driven Hiring?
These days, sales managers incorporate data and numbers into almost every step in the sales cycle. Sadly, very few actually use these skills when hiring employees.
Croner says lack of growth is the reason sales managers are behind in data-driven hiring. They become complacent with the standards they initially set and reuse them throughout the lifespan of their business.
Croner suggests that a lot of sales managers still use the same hiring standards and criteria they conceptualized at the start of their career. In fact, it already became a habit.
When someone walks in and fits their idea of success, they immediately hire them. However, Croner states that success is subjective and these standards should change as time passes.
What to Look for in a Territory Hunter?
Since success is subjective, how will the employer hiring employees learn to look past their previous standards and decide who to hire? The answer: learn to look for the right qualities.
Croner has been working with some of the top sales companies in the country for the past 16 years. During that time, he and his company have discovered some of the most common qualities top salespeople and hunters have.
In fact, Croner emphasizes that the common traits managers look for such as persuasion, organization, and relationship skills aren’t as important as managers make them out to be. Of course, that doesn’t make them worthless.
Croner and his team focused on differentiating successful from non-performing salespeople. For a hunter to go above and beyond what’s expected of them, they’d need these traits:
1. Need for Achievement
The people managers should hire are those who want to excel for the sole sake of doing well. Not for money, but just because they’d want to set the bar high for themselves.
This is an area most sales managers don’t think about. In sales, employers usually choose candidates who have a need for money.
Applicants with car loans, mortgage payments, and mouths to feed are usually at the top of their list since they need a job now. They assume these people will become successful since they urgently need a job fast.
While this may be true, the need for money will eventually go away. If the hiring incentive and salary are the only things an applicant wants, then you can’t expect them to provide competitive service, can you?
Sales managers may end up wondering why their high-potential hunters stop improving.
The reason these hunters stop improving is their external pressure may have already gone away. They don’t need to work any harder than they already are because they’re comfortable with the compensation they receive.
On the other hand, someone who wants to succeed for the sake of succeeding will continue to work harder than the rest.
In sales, a certain level of competition is always healthy. The tricky part here is acquiring competitive individuals that boost team morale, not drag it down.
A competitive salesperson wants to achieve two things: be better than other team members and win customers over to their point of view.
Not only would a good hunter want to be the best among the top producers of their team, but they’d also have a passion for convincing customers.
Salespeople eat rejections for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If your candidate easily lets rejections affect their overall mood, then they may not fit the hunter position.
Look for candidates with a good overall drive that allows them to bring the same high level of enthusiasm to every client they talk to. You might want to reconsider hiring someone who easily gets down after a few rejections.
If their level of enthusiasm dies down early on in the day, then their chances of closing a deal decrease as well. Sales managers should look for individuals with the resiliency to face rejections again and again.
Do Different Roles Need Different Traits?
After Croner enumerated these three traits, I asked him if these varied depending on the roles candidates were applying for. Croner states that these traits may vary to a certain degree.
For example, a closer may need the same characteristics as a great hunter if they want to follow an effective sales cycle.
On the other hand, the traits of an effective sales manager may vary greatly from that of a closer and a hunter. A good individual contributor does not automatically lead to a good manager.
What’s a Good Way to Measure Drive?
Perhaps a common reason why sales managers don’t look for drive when hiring candidates is they don’t exactly know how to measure it. Croner suggests that a solid way to predict future performance is through their previous progress.
For example, you can ask your candidates about what sacrifices they had to make in the past for career growth. The answers could range anywhere from missing a child’s birthday party to being away from home for an entire month.
Whatever the answers are, compile the data then compare them with the sacrifices your top employees made. This will help you gauge what your candidate’s priorities are.
Is It Correct to Use Top-Performers As the Benchmark?
Croner warns us that sales managers should be careful when analyzing a candidate’s data with their own employee’s data. Sales managers should remember that any score they come up with is exclusive to the group they are analyzing.
That means if you’re analyzing the drive of a candidate, then you need to compare the data with someone who was hired for their drive and persistence. If you’re just hearing about drive now, then chances are, your previous team members weren’t exactly hired for their drive.
What Croner wants managers to remember is not to use their top-performing hunters as benchmarks all of the time. A better approach would be to get the average score in a group and use those numbers instead.
For example, the hiring group can measure the average drive of their existing sales team then compare it with the drive of their applicants. After that, they can determine ways to hire people who can bring up these numbers.
Why Do Leaders Fail to Adopt This Type of Concept in Hiring?
Two reasons why some leaders are slow to adopt this type of data-driven hiring are:
- They may not have sufficient training to create a step-by-step hiring process.
- These sales leaders don’t want to follow a specific routine.
A lot of managers prefer to have conversations with their applicants to gauge how well they can potentially perform. For example, in sales, leaders would often want to hire someone who is likable.
As a result, they would create multiple conversations to see how well a person can present themselves and carry out conversations.
Croner emphasizes once again that while relationship skills are important, they’re not a determining factor in how well a candidate may perform. Yes, they may be likable during the interview, but can they deliver?
Any candidate can come to the interview with a prepared speech on how to impress the hiring group and sales manager. But do they actually have the experience and training to meet your expectations of them?
Finding the Balance in Hiring
Croner and I agree that it would be beneficial if sales leaders can merge the two concepts together: screen the resume and application papers of the candidates then try to have a good conversation with them.
I personally believe it’s sad that sales leaders either go one way or the other. If they could determine the candidates innate and teachable skills, the hiring process would produce more results.
Croner states that some companies are just good at combining these concepts. It’s all about finding the pieces that come together.
For example, if you were hiring an athlete, you’d want to see how high they jump or how fast they run. At the same time, it’s important to have some cultural similarities that would allow them to fit in with the team.
All that natural ability is great, but would you be able to work together with that person to bring your company to newer heights? Sales leaders should give themselves ample time during the interview to determine all of that.
The Importance of Using an Assessment Program
What is the one thing Croner wanted to leave with the audience? The answer: the importance of using some type of assessment early in the hiring process.
This especially applies to leaders who are looking for hunters. You’d want to make sure that the candidate has enough drive to be resilient and achieve success.
Sales leaders can visit the Sales Drive Test website to request a copy on entry assessment. Afterward, Croner would be glad to schedule a call with you to see how it works for you and your team.
Overall, what’s important is using an effective system that will guide you throughout the process. Remember, success is subjective and that you shouldn’t let your idea of it negatively affect the hiring process. Also, you don’t necessarily have to choose one specific hiring technique. Try to determine whether they have the innate skills of a successful salesperson and gauge how well they can hold themselves in a sales conversation.
Has your HR department applied data-driven hiring yet? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
In This Episode You Learned:
– How to change your hiring process
– What questions you can ask to hire better
– How data-driven hiring can change your business