There is a misconceived notion that good salespeople are born and not developed. I am a firm believer that success in sales is a function of both skill and process. A salesperson without a concrete process will inevitably be lapped by the person staying true to their process each time. When hiring salespeople it is imperative to identify candidates who possess a combination of qualities that aid in development and lend to success in any organization.
I classify a top performer in sales as an ‘instinctive workhorse’. This persona is defined as someone that possesses enough of the skill and instinct needed to be successful in sales, but as importantly, the work ethic to be diligent and consistently follow a process. Of course, being able to incorporate the organization’s process into their personal style is also very important. Many sales managers and organizations face the fact that a good hire can be challenging. Considering the qualities below in your hiring process will bring you one step closer to a highly productive and consistent sales force.
The overwhelming majority of high performing salespeople do not start out as a top performer. The product/service must be learned and the sales process must be taught and applied. A coachable sales rep will ensure a faster ramp time and more seamless career development.
Many organizations preach the importance of culture, rightfully so. However, many of these organizations lose sight of the importance of hiring for a cultural fit as they scale. When thinking about the importance of a cultural fit I recall a presentation I attended here in Cambridge. Brad Feld, a well-respected entrepreneur, investor, and blogger spoke about how hiring for cultural fit early on in a company’s growth is often more important than hiring for competence. He later wrote a blog article about his theory which can be found at: http://www.feld.com/wp/archives/2012/12/hire-for-cultural-fit-over-competence.html
While good instinct can be tough to identify, past experience and proven ability to close business can be one of the largest indicators. When hiring young salespeople, do not pass up the chance to consider this skill when experience is not applicable. Role playing is one of the best ways to evaluate the instincts of a candidate; just ensure you have a scoring system in place to measure candidates against one another (future post in the works).
Be persistent. It goes without saying that a successful salesperson will possess this skill and apply it to their process. Persistence and process define a workhorse. Early in my sales career Kyle York, Chief Revenue officer at DYN, told me a story (http://dyn.com/blog/honesty-passion-persistence/) which has impacted his career and influenced how he conducts business. To borrow words from Kyle’s story, “To be successful in business and in life you have to follow three fundamental principles: honesty, passion and PERSISTENCE.” This story has stuck with me over the past few years and thought it was worth a share.
Tell us what you look for in new hires…