As a salesperson, sales coach, trainer, and executive, I can say this: Salespeople are a breed all their own. We are difficult to evaluate if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for. So I thought I would help those CEOs, business owners, and HR executives out there who are hiring their own sales teams by highlighting five mistakes I often see hiring managers make:
1) Not taking the time to fully identify the requirements for your specific sales role. It’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Does your role entail a long sales cycle or short sales cycle? A one call close or multiple calls? High ticket price or high volume? Lots of research and written communication or lots of “hitting the streets”? You need to be as specific as possible about what success requires before you can find the best candidate.
2) Not using sales skills assessments AND personality assessments. Even a mediocre salesperson can convince you in an interview that he/she is perfect for the job. There are too many excellent tools out there today that will help you prove/disprove that this candidate has what it takes to be successful.
3) Not knowing when to get help. Depending on the role, a job ad can generate dozens (even hundreds) of responses. Think of the labor hours required to do appropriate screening. Even if you have an internal HR person devoted to this, their human resource background sometimes does not help them when it comes to identifying sales talent. The best resource is a combination of an HR professional with a sales professional implementing the search.
4) Thinking it’s an “employer’s market.” The economy or unemployment rate may make it appear that employers get their pick of the crop, so to speak. In reality, really stellar salespeople are always in demand, and you will be competing to get them to select your company. Your interview process should include some element of showing the candidate why they should work for you.
5) Waiting for the “perfect” candidate. Industry experience is often not as important as many hiring managers think. “But our industry is so unique and different!” If you keep looking only at candidates within your specific niche, you are limiting your choices and may eliminate a fresh, hungry, bright, proven sales star that could achieve results never before seen at your company.
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