Hire Salespeople Who Sell

By Tony ColeTony Cole

We are quickly approaching the end of the year. In fact, many (and maybe most) would say the business year is as good as over. As you take stock of your team’s performance, what concerns you most? Is it the challenge of maintaining your company’s market share? Are you worried that your people are not selling? Are you concerned that they even have what it takes to sell?

Recruiting is the biggest problem identified by those participating in my keynotes. The question is always, “How do I hire better salespeople?” Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. But one thing you must recognize is that you and your process are responsible for the quality of the salespeople on your staff today. In other words, your recruiting process is perfectly designed for the team you have. So, if you need more productive salespeople, you will need to change your recruiting process.

Recruiting is like sales. A salesperson must have a system. He must have a pipeline. His activity must be consistent. Like this salesperson, you must have a system and you must execute the recruiting process exactly like you wish your salespeople to execute their sales process. Recruiting, like selling, is not a “sometime” thing- it must be a consistently planned and implemented activity.

You must have a Recruiting Pipeline, like your salesperson has a Prospecting Pipeline. Individual salespeople are required to fill their Prospecting Pipeline. Sales managers and sales leaders must be required to fill their Recruiting Pipeline. After all, if you had salespeople who didn’t have sufficient Prospecting Pipelines, you would be concerned about their future and the future of your company. As the person responsible for recruiting and sales production, the same should hold true for you and your Recruiting Pipeline.

To implement a Recruiting Pipeline, ask your sales team to let you know if they run across someone at the networking opportunities they attend. Ask them who they know. “Who should we be talking to? Do you know anyone who might be looking to make a change?” You must make your own efforts as well. Sometimes salespeople will not wish to offer up names, thinking that these people might present competition.

Meet with other employees to find out who they know who might be a good fit. Put together a Recruiting Team and ask these people to submit candidate names once per week. Implement a Recruiting Huddle and hold yourself and everyone else accountable. Talk to your neighbors, your tennis partner, your golf friends, etc. Ask them who they know who might be looking for a sales position. You never know where you will find your next producer and your goal is to fill your Recruiting Pipeline with prospective hires.

You must also determine your Pipeline Success Formula—how many names must you have in your pipeline to hire one good recruit? How many names must you acquire to find one candidate that you will hire, contract and on-board? If you don’t already have a Recruiting Pipeline and have not done this consistently, you will have to guess until you get enough experience.

Recruiting requires you to be proactive. Have a consistent process, do the behaviors and inspect your activity just like you do your sales team’s activities.

Last, but not least, you must identify the ideal salesperson candidate. What are the skills and strengths most necessary for success in your company, industry and marketplace? It is imperative that you determine a profile for the ideal candidate because otherwise you might hire just to fill an opening, thinking a warm body is better than none.

In this process, you must identify the type of salesperson you need and how your current sales staff measures up to the ideal salesperson.

I recommend an objective assessment that screens for sales skills, weaknesses and compatibility like the OMG Sales Candidate Screen. The Sales Candidate Screen gives you a succinct and accurate glance at a recruit. Will he take responsibility for his successes and failures? Will he get referrals? Can he handle prospects? Will his desire to be liked get in the way of selling? Does he take put-offs? Will he make presentations to unqualified prospects? Is he a hunter who will go out and find business? Or is he a farmer who has the ability to cultivate current business?

How many of the right people do you have today? Would you have hired these salespeople if you would have had better insight? If you had this type of sales ability knowledge before you hired them, would your on-boarding be different? Do you even know what weaknesses you should be coaching to fix?

So, you must know what you are looking for in a candidate and you should know in advance the problems that a candidate is bringing to the table. Clearly, resumes are not the answer because they typically present a stellar candidate. Face-to-Face interviews are often misleading and can take you off-track if you particularly like or dislike a candidate.

Next, you must implement a 5-Minute Prescreen Telephone Interview with the goal of initial discovery. Is the resume accurate? How does the candidate handle the phone call? In this case, you are the prospect and your candidate needs to sell you on himself.

The 5-Minute Prescreen Interview sounds like this: “You’ve seen the job post. What makes you a fit?” Ask and then let the candidate talk. The idea is to create an environment on the phone just like the salesperson will face when he is prospecting. Thus, it should be a bit uncomfortable. You must find out how the candidate will act under pressure. Ideally, he will ask you a lot of questions, will press for a follow-up interview and will try to keep you on the phone.

At the end of the 5-Minute Prescreen Telephone Interview, you will say the following: “We are going to make a decision by Tuesday. If you do not hear from us by Wednesday, that means you did not make it, ok? Thanks for your time.” But don’t hang up immediately. A good sales candidate will try to engage you by asking questions. This means that he will likely attempt to do the same in a sales situation with a prospect who is rejecting him. Perhaps he will even try to close for an interview. This means that he will likely attempt to do this with a prospect. If he does one or the other, he passes the 5-Minute Interview and is on to the next step.

[The above article is an excerpt from, “The Extraordinary Sales Manager.”]

Tony Cole is President & CEO, Anthony Cole Training Group. Visit our website anthonycoletraining.com or call us at 1-877-635-5371. Download one or both of Tony’s free eBooks, Hire Bankers Who Will Sell or, The Extraordinary Sales Manager.