Riding on a wave of an advertising and marketing blitzkrieg, anybody can sell a good product or service. True “salesmanship” lies in selling an unknown or lesser known product that has an average or non-existent brand name. Only a few possess this talent. Sales staffing should be aimed at hiring the best, brightest, and most talented sales professionals.
Sales success for an organization hinges largely on the proper selection of the sales people. Paying enough attention to the selection of sales staff takes care of more than half of the sales job. Smart sales people are adept at highlighting the strengths of the product or service. Sales Professionals are experts in spotting prospects and swift in overcoming objections. They can sell well even in the face of adversity and cut throat competition. Also, efficient sales people have the internal drive to succeed, a great sense of urgency to get the job done and achieve their sales objectives, even when the conditions are tough. So how do you spot such sales winners?
Search at the Right Places
Depending on the type of the organization and their sales focus, advertisements for sales staff should be strategically placed. Newspapers are the obvious first choice in placing ads for sales staffing requirements. But the selection of newspapers for sales vacancies should be correct. Sales people working in the financial field read different newspapers and industry publications than sales people working in the automobile industry. Senior sales executives prefer reading industry specific magazines and journals.
If raw recruits are what you want, campus selection could be a workable alternative. Encouraging your sales staff to poll their contacts and friends from other organizations works well too if you are looking for sales people with some experience. Networking is an excellent way of getting to know senior sales executives working for other organizations. Their current salary, benefits and pay expectations can be determined through networking.
Look for Passion
It does not matter if the sales candidate you are considering is a “rookie” or a seasoned sales professional, everybody on your sales team should have that spark. The “fire in the belly” should be felt through the eyes of the candidates. Selling is a dynamic and competitive job and it has no place for sluggish sales people who can’t deal with rejection and the stress the profession has. Active and self-motivated people make good sales people. Most importantly, they should have a passion for sales and a desire to meet new prospects and solve client’s problem through creatively crafting their sales solution.
Sales people should love their profession. Apart from the resume, their body language will speak volumes about their interest for the job. Arrange for more than one round of interviews to scan candidates. This will weed out the least motivated sales people from the aggressive and motivated sales people.
A young hire can be a smart choice. But certain sales functions cannot be handled by young and inexperienced sales people. They are the domains of experienced sales people. Screening candidates on the basis of years of service alone is a dangerous practice. Many sales people have 10, 15, or 20 years of experience which could actually mean 1 year of real experience multiplied over 10, 15, or 20 times. Working in more than one organization in various capacities dealing with a range of products leads to a bank of knowledge that is diverse. A sales professional in the telecommunication industry is better positioned if he has worked with landlines and mobile phones in comparison to one that has worked only for a mobile phone sales organization.
Do Qualifications Matter
Yes it does if you are considering hiring new candidates. Candidates with little or no actual sales experience, but who possess a professional degree in sales and marketing are preferable to candidates without the aforementioned. But, if you are hiring experienced sales people then qualification can be overlooked. There are many qualified sales people that are just average performers as there are an equal number of unqualified super sales performers. Talent, achievements, and passion can take precedence over qualifications when hiring experienced candidates.
Probe deeply as to whether the candidate can adapt to your sales organization and culture. This requires honestly matching the candidate’s expectations and career goals to the kind of compensation and career advancement that you can offer. Candidates with a strong and independent streak are more likely to desire a sales culture that fosters and engenders a sales culture of independence and freedom. They may be good performers, but there is a chance that they will quit sooner or later if their sales personalities and desires are not met. Similarly frequent “job changers” jump from job to job at unhealthy intervals. They should be avoided.
Some sales candidates are so set in their sales skills and behaviors from their last organization that it becomes hard for them to shed old habits and adapt to a new sales organization and culture. This may cause unnecessary friction. Make this clear from the beginning – which they may have to adapt and change if they are to be successful and enjoy their sales career.
In summary, when selecting a superior sales candidate for your organization you should have a clear picture of the type of sales people you want to hire. You and your current sales team should be prepared to ask some tough pertinent questions of the candidates to determine who best to hire for the position. Candidness and a professional attitude on your part would make the selection process a truly fruitful and enjoyable one for you and the sales candidate.
About the Author:
Doug Dvorak helps companies and professionals achieve results through customized, creative and non-traditional sales training systems that are “one size fits one” and developed to the unique business needs and “sales pain points” of each client. He is available to speak on these topics.
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Copyright 2008 The Sales Coaching Institute, Inc.
Sales Skills Training Strategic Sales Coaching
Doug Dvorak, CEO of DMG International, is the Author of the forthcoming book “Build Your Own Brand” (Pelican, 2009)