Stephen Hensley’s 15-Point Manifesto for Sales Performance – Point #5
Stop hiring on the premise that you can turn anyone into a sales performer.
Here are three internal best practices, bringing leaders to focus on quality hires versus bodies to fill seats.
I find many leaders will sacrifice time, energy, and effort to keep bodies in the seat. They get consumed about hitting the result, they don’t take the time to slow down. They bring in groups of new reps so their seats are full or they’re 100% staffed on the report their leader is reviewing. Some people are simply not good at selling, and it doesn’t make them a terrible person. They don’t have the focus, desire, or tenacity to consistently hit their goals.
We live in a world where we have information at our fingertips. You can search interview questions for sales roles (amongst many others) which get memorized and used during interviews. Many interviewers take the surface response and either agree to move to the next question or mark it against the applicant. The reason this happens frequently is many leaders don’t take the time to build interview questions that ensure the candidate will navigate the current sales landscape.
I would first build interview questions that truly ensure the applicant can be successful in the role. I use an off-the-shelf assessment for businesses where we can build a job match pattern and questions geared towards real-life situations the sales reps encounter. I had a client tell me their questions were good, and they weren’t the problem. The questions were like: What would your last customer tell me about how you helped them? What’s your selling style? How often do you hear no before you stop selling?
I find many sales applicants use the role as a stepping stone to go somewhere else in the company. Many leaders tell me they want people who want to move up in the organization because they’re motivated. Not so fast! This is typically a sign they want to come and move to an “easier” role. You want to go after sales reps that want to dominate their role. Those who are hungry to put the customer first. Those that want to destroy their sales goals.
As they prove their ability, layer in discussion about advancement. This will eliminate a significant amount of turnover. I partnered with a commodity client where this occurred. Once they hired the candidates that fit their need, they reduced their turnover significantly. They could start building consistency with the team because there wasn’t a revolving door of new hires.
I always hear about companies trying to source candidates from their current employees. This isn’t necessarily a poor move; however, it can have a significant downside. I’ve found that employees will solicit candidates which typically will have a higher chance of being hired because of the referral. Then, the new referral will remain employed long enough for the referee to receive the referral bonus. Just because the current employee breathes the oxygen of the company doesn’t mean those they recommend will.
To combat this, I would build a presence in the community. You must get to know those in the community and think of long-term. You can find those individuals that live the values you’re looking for. When you’re out in the community, most people will behave as they would normally. Once you identify the right potential candidate, then look for people who know them and gain additional insight. This will help you make better hiring decisions.