Most us know that recruiting the wrong salespeople can have a devastatingly negative impact on your business. Carrying the costs involved with hiring the individuals – advertising, recruiting and induction – can be problematic. Especially if you have to provide for these costs again if the new hire does not work out.
An employee that’s the wrong fit may also come with hidden costs. Think about the hours of wasted time and loss of productivity that your business still must carry the costs for. Almost worse, is the fact that an unsupported and poorly trained hire can cost you valuable sales opportunities that could have provided your business with the revenue you need.
The reason for the discord…
Through my twenty years in the sales world, I’ve come to realise that one of the main problems with hiring salespeople is how we assess them. Most of the time the recruiter will only rely on past success and that success is rarely in the same industry, selling the same product to the same customers. Past success is a poor indicator of the future (so the banks and financial institutions keep telling us and they are right). Every enterprise has its own culture and way of doing things. In short, your business undoubtedly has its subtleties and culture quirks that make it the successful and unique commercial endeavour it is.
This means that while you may have employees that love to work for you, the opposite is also true. Not all of us thrive in the same types of environments. Your unique way of doing things, how you handle client issues and celebrate, are the expression of your corporate culture. Even the most minor of niggles can become the thorn in the side of a functional sales team, especially in a pleasure loaded sales environment where the team must hit their numbers.
So, what are the solutions to these issues?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to the question, but you can start by looking at the following three strategic approaches.
- Be as specific as possible about the position and what will be expected of the new recruit. Don’t just think we need more sales, therefore a new salesperson is what we need.
- When you are going through resumes it’s important to remember that past success does not mean future success.
Especially if the candidate wasn’t a salesperson in the same industry as yours, selling the exact same products you are.
- Make sure they will be a good fit for your culture. You can teach them how to do the job, but not how to fit into the team. Sophisticated team personality profiling is an essential tool that will show current team members subconscious and conscious ways of dealing with situations. When this is applied to the short list of new recruits it will often provide clarity as to who has the right profile to thrive in your environment. This step alone means the difference between a great team member and having to replace them when the chips are down.
Provide clarity on your systems and processes
- If you haven’t already, document your sales process. This will give you a clear understanding of the training new hires will require.
- Set your KPI’s around sales and activities, not just sales performance. This will give you a holistic insight into the new hire’s daily activities and progress if things start to go wrong.
- Provide your new salesperson with a clear commission structure that rewards the behaviours that lead to your business’ success. For example, if you have a lot of churn (people leaving within a short period of signing up) and your model is based on recurring revenue, you can change how the team get compensated to encourage the sales people to bed the sales down more professionally. One way to do this is to pay some on signup and the rest spread out over 3-6 months.
Provide effective on-boarding and training
- Letting new hires sit with your star salesperson is not training. Apart from selling style differences, your star might not be a good trainer, or be unconsciously competent in their job, and as such will be unable to transfer skills and habits necessary for success.
- Training should also include developing new hires to have the right attitude, behaviours and competencies, not just job skills.
- Communicate issues early and develop a coaching program that deals with these issues in an encouraging and enrolling way.
- Provide detailed training on your products and services in a well-structured way. This ideally stretches over four to six weeks. Selling something new requires behavioural change and that change will not happen overnight. An extended onboarding period is essential to create lasting positive growth.
If your business depends on a highly effective sales team that will drive it on to greater successes, but you are uncertain how to mitigate your recruitment risks, please feel free to make contact or take a look at our Recruit & Train page. I am confident I can point you in the right direction.
Comment below to let me know the biggest issues you find with recruiting, or for a bit of fun your biggest recruiting disasters.