Top 10 Keys to an Effective Sales Hiring Process

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 11, 2011 @ 00:08 AM

keys to hiring salespeopleThere are many keys to making the the sales hiring process work effectively yet most companies fail to get these keys right.  Some of them are obvious, while some are more subtle.  And most of all, the integrity, or in this case, the outcome of the process is only as strong as the weakest link.  Ignore or fail to complete any one step the way it is designed and the entire outcome will be in jeopardy, as in, another salesperson that fails to launch, doesn't meet expectations, or succeeds at being utterly mediocre.

Here are some keys and comments:

  1. You must identify what experiences the new salespeople must have in order to succeed at your company, in this position, calling into your market.
  2. You have to nail the posting - get it wrong and the wrong people will apply for the position.  When the wrong people apply, you have a pool that's green and unsuitable for diving in.
  3. You must use a customized, sales specific, predictive assessment to identify the candidates who will succeed in your positions and roles.  If the assessment isn't predictive and you can't rely on it, you'll end up wasting your time with the wrong candidates.
  4. You must be able to determine, in less than 5 minutes by phone, which of the recommended candidates have the desired experience, sound great, and should be interviewed.
  5. You must be able to firmly but nicely cross-examine your candidates in a face-to-face interview to determine whether they are the person described on their resume or an imposter, meaning the resume was a work of fiction.
  6. You must have realistic expectations on your timeline.  30-60 days to fill an ordinary territory sales position, 90 days or more to fill a niche sales position, and even longer for the proverbial needle in the haystack.
  7. You must be patient enough to do it all over again if you don't find the candidate(s) that make you happy.  Once you have reached the interview stage, candidates will come in 6 and possibly 12 flavors: 
    • Strong sales skills, perfect background and you like them;
    • Strong sales skills, a background that is close and you like them;
    • Strong sales skills, wrong background and you like them;
    • Strong sales skills, perfect background and you don't like them;
    • Strong sales skills, a background that is close and you don't like them;
    • Strong sales skills, wrong background and you don't like them;
If you compromised on the assessment profile and didn't insist on it recommending only the strongest salespeople, you'll have 6 more flavors like those above, only they will be showing Weak Sales Skills.
You need to select from Strong, perfect or close, and you like them.  Period.  You let the assessment tell you whether they are strong.  You let the interview, not the resume, determine whether they have the right background.  And only then do you decide whether you like them.
If you don't get what you want, you must answer this question:  12 months from now, will you be happy that you took three more months to find the right salesperson, or pissed off that you compromised, wasted a year, and have to begin the process all over again?
8.  After identifying a candidate(s) you wish to hire, you must be able to effectively sell the opportunity to them.
9.  Finally, you must be able to effectively on board the new salesperson(s) so that they go roaring out of the gate
10. You must be willing to coach at least twice per day, while holding the new salesperson accountable to all of the agreed upon startup metrics.

Hiring salespeople is not for the faint of heart, should not be performed without the right tools, and cannot be conducted without the right process.  Most importantly, gut instinct is not a part of this process!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Recruiting Process, sales hiring process, sales candidate assessment

Why Do Salespeople Quit in the First Year?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 09, 2011 @ 11:06 AM

quitWhen companies do everything correctly in the sales hiring process, they:

  • get the job spec right
  • write a killer ad to attract the candidates who meet the spec
  • use the Internet effectively to source the right candidates
  • use recruiters that "get it" and will actually find qualified candidates
  • use a predictive sales specific assessment early in the process
  • conduct a short phone conversation with recommended candidates to further filter out
  • conduct an effective first interview with candidates who pass the first three hurdles
  • identify the candidates that will succeed
  • conduct an effective final interview on the candidates they wish to hire
  • conduct an effective 90-day on-boarding process

...and they are still vulnerable to salespeople leaving within the first 9 months.  Why?

The reasons fall into 4 basic categories:

  1. Sales Management
  2. Culture
  3. Expectations
  4. It's Them

When it's sales management, the reasons usually can be traced to managers that don't manage full time, managers who aren't fully engaged with their salespeople, managers who aren't effective at sales coaching, managers who are shit-heads, and phantom managers.  In other words, salespeople are hired where there is no sales manager.

When it's the culture, it tends to be more about not putting salespeople in a position to succeed.  It could be the overall company attitude, product, support or technical people, the way the company does things - its policies and guidelines, top management, lack of sales support, compensation, or a myriad of other things that drive salespeople crazy.

When it's about expectations, it could relate to compensation, sales cycle, degree of difficulty, performance requirements, the time frame, leads, prospecting, competition, resistance, and more.  It could be that either no expectations, unreasonable expectations, or inaccurate expectations were set, all making it very easy for a salesperson to become frustrated, disappointed and discouraged.  

When it's about them, they usually failed.  They could have personal issues, psychological problems and/or distractions preventing them from consistently putting forth the time, energy, effort, discipline and skill required.

It's not enough to do everything right from a selection standpoint.  You must also make sure that your culture, sales management and expectations all support the first year efforts of salespeople you put a lot of effort into hiring.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, sales management, Sales Candidate, sales hiring process

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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