The most crucial part of sales management is recruiting, selecting and hiring top sales performers. Top sales performers have an immediate impact on market share, profitability, and revenue.
If revenue growth and capturing market share is a priority, then hiring overachieving sales talent immediately assumes a high degree of importance for every organization.
There are a number of reasons that make recruiting top sales people a difficult endeavor.
Understanding the attributes of top sales talent is completely different from every other role in the organization. Unfortunately, most business owners and heads of sales put too much emphasis on education level, industry experience, and technical qualifications when defining hiring criteria. Although important for consideration, these have nothing to do with what drives top performance.
To find, qualify and hire top sales talent there are three strategies to follow, they are:
- Make a organizational commitment to hire the best and do not settle for less;
- Learn exactly what a top performer looks like, so you know one when you see one; and finally,
- Have a systematic approach that is measurable and repeatable.
What Does “Selecting the Best” Mean?
There is a line in the sand when it comes to top performers in the sales world. Here’s a staggering number to consider…
Of one million salespeople evaluated, 82% of those were under quota and not meeting job expectations.
The Pareto Principle holds true in sales, the top 20% are responsible for 80% of total sales production. Hire in the bottom 80% of the available sales market and you will pay a price in management time, low production, turnover and most importantly lost opportunity cost (by far the most expensive cost). In simple words, unless you know what you are doing when it comes to recruiting top talent the odds are against you when it comes to consistently hiring well.
Using traditional hiring methods and requirements that work in other areas of the organization do not work in the sales department.
Step One: Select the Best and Don’t Settle for Less
As if you didn’t know; when you make a commitment to do something, there is one thing that is sure to follow… obstacles and challenges! This why most people avoid commitments. But similar to a sales cycle, when you get to “no” it actually brings you closer to getting to a yes. But that’s a different article. Making a commitment to selecting the best also brings you closer to something else that is important, the truth about the availability of top performers.
The available market of top performers is really less than 5%. Even though 20% of sales people are overachievers, only 25% of those are in the market at any one given time.
Top producing talent is well cared for and usually happy in their current position. They make good money and are well respected because they are the top salesperson and critical to the company’s success… why would they want to leave? They usually only leave when the company makes a blunder, and company’s frequently do!
Step Two: Know What You are Looking For
First and foremost, knowing the attributes of an overachiever are essential before beginning any search for your “A” player.
There are four types of salespeople, they are…
Those who can’t and won’t;
Those who can’t and will;
Those who can and won’t, and
Those who can and will.
Can and will salespeople are the top 20%. This is what to look for when qualifying top sales candidates.
Can vs. can’t has to do with internal sales DNA or capabilities to execute in a selling environment when it counts. Will vs. won’t has to do with motivation or the lack of, to do the things that other unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.
If you’d like a great 10 minute read on the Modern Science of Salesperson Selection, which explains sales DNA and measuring motivation, you can go HERE.
Selling environment, selling skills, personal presence, presentation skills, EQ, listening skills and more are also important considerations when identifying an “A” player sales candidate.
Step Three: Have a System
Vetting 100+ candidates to find one “A” sales player is typical. This is why you have to be committed. But there is a short cut!
The top 20% producers sell 120% more on average than your currently employed average salesperson. The top 4% (AKA the top 20% of the top 20%) produces 250% more than average. The good news is that with the right system it can take as little as 5 man hours of actual time to vet all these candidates and find the one or two that meet the standard.
A Sales Recruiting System Must do 5 critical things, which are:
- Defines exactly the right candidate for your company,
- Attracts the critical mass of “right” applicants to apply,
- Identifies if they have the Can & Will factor,
- Has a qualifying step to confirm fit, and
- Has a non-traditional face-to-face interview to confirm top performance intangibles.
If you want a championship sales team, you must commit to raising the standard. It starts with selecting the best!