Hiring Better Sales People

By Tony ColeTony Cole

How do you go about finding sales talent? What challenges have you had trying to hire better sales people? When you replace someone, because they leave or you let them go, is the replacement better, the same or worse than the recently departed?

At Anthony Cole Training Group, we spend a lot of time helping presidents of organizations answer the burning platform question: How do I drive consistent sales growth?

Often, if not always, one of the answers has to do with hiring better sales people. As you may know by now, that simple idea does not come to fruition easily.

One of our business partners is OMG, Objective Management Group. OMG President, David Kurlan, and his staff have developed the #1 Sales Evaluation Process in the World. Not only does Kurlan’s sales process provide vital information on skills, traits and tendencies of existing sales people and sales managers, it also provides great and necessary insight into the systems and processes that exist within the company that are either supporting or hindering their sales growth objective.

One of the processes investigated is recruiting. I often remind you that your company, your systems and your processes are perfectly designed for the results you are getting today. Of course, one of those processes is your recruiting process!

If you are not getting enough of the right candidates to talk to, if the candidates you interview fail or if you interview quality candidates but cannot attract them to your company, then something is wrong with your process. Or if you are able to find quality candidates who fail quickly or who do not succeed at all, something is wrong with your process.

To correct this dismal situation, you must adopt a new recruiting process. We follow and teach OMG’s program, Star Talent Acquisition Routine, otherwise known as STAR.

The first step in this process to hire better sales people is to establish the right profile and then STICK to that profile when searching for sales talent. Do NOT settle for something less than the perfect candidate. And make sure that, when you are evaluating resumes, pre-hire evaluations and interview notes, you are comparing them to this ideal profile standard.

I’m currently reading a book by Perry Marshall in which he writes about understanding the Pareto Principle (rule of 80/20) as it applies to sales and marketing. He explains how most organizations look at the wrong data when determining success.

Example: Remember when you had to take a particularly difficult test in school? After you finished it, you talked with others about how you would be “graded on the curve.” What that means is that, if the average score on the test was 50% and you scored 75%, you would probably get an “A”.

The question is: Did the “A” truly reflect your skill or mastery of the subject matter? Or did it merely reflect how you or someone else scored against the average? The answer, as painful as it may be, is that it compares you to the average. In the end, this may not be a good indicator of your knowledge since it only compares you to the average. You could be “the best of the worst!” This is where companies get into trouble too—they may well be looking at data that is measured against average, thinking that they are hiring adept sales people when, in fact, they are hiring “the best of the worst.”

The same may hold true for some of your candidates. Many, though not all, pre-hire tests provide you with an evaluation of how your candidate’s score compared to an “average” score. But is that really what you want?

The answer is no! Definitely not!

Unfortunately, we are conditioned to accept average and above-average. This mediocre standard will not help you hire better sales people. What you need to look for is what we call the Robo-Sales Person. You want someone who blows the test away! You want sales people who are best-of-class. You want the Pareto 20% who produce, not the 80% who are along for the ride.

And it’s not just about the pre-hire test. It’s about every step along the way. In your current process, do you:

  • Have a solid and detailed job description? Have you identified what it takes to be extraordinary in the role?
  • Have a description of the product or service that is being sold? Have you identified what kind of competition against which the sales person must be successful?
  • Make it clear that your organization puts high pressure on someone to perform? And do you find out if your candidate can survive in that kind of environment?
  • Do you create an interviewing environment that is similar to that which they will encounter regularly and must be successful in? i.e. – Are you difficult on the phone? Do you make them establish rapport in the initial interview? Do you make them try to close you for the next step?

Recruiting is Prospecting with a capital P. Sales people are responsible for the lifeblood, the income, the health of your company and the sales talent you hire is only as good as your company’s systems and processes.

Learn more about Tony Cole, President of Anthony Cole Training Group, at his blog and website. Enjoy Tony’s e-Book 9 Keys to Sales Coaching Success.

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About editor

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan shares his passion for life and faith through words. Peter DeHaan’s website (www.peterdehaan.com) contains information and links to his blogs, newsletter, and social media pages. Peter DeHaan is the president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc., (www.peterdehaanpublishing.com) the publisher and editor of Connections Magazine and AnswerStat, and editor of Article Weekly.