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How to hire your sales team

  • Publish Date: Posted about 2 months ago
  • Author:by Lauren Dono

​Our guide to identifying - and winning over - the best Sales talent

If your business is experiencing growth, you’ll no doubt need to increase your workforce to reach more existing and potential new customers. Whether you’re hiring your first salesperson or adding to your current Sales team, it’s important to know how to effortlessly spot a suitable candidate who can help you scale accordingly.

This is because it can sometimes be difficult to ascertain whether someone’s personality is the right fit for your business from a few emails, video calls or meetings. However, the best salespeople possess certain key traits that simply cannot be overlooked when it comes to planning ahead for future success.

To help you improve your hiring success rate and make your final decision that much easier, we’ve devised a guide to equip you with the tools you need to optimise your sales recruitment process to help your business thrive…

Define the specific needs of your new Sales hire

Creating a job spec isn’t the first step to finding a good salesperson or building out a Sales team. Before jumping into an overly ambitious or rushed sales recruitment project, start by identifying your own individual recruiting requirements, by assessing what a strong salesperson looks like for you, your team and your organisation as a whole.

Before drafting a job description, review your current business needs and identify any experience gaps in your Sales department as this will help you build up a picture about who could fill them. Be honest about the skill set and experience level that you’re searching for and consider a realistic but fair salary for your new hire.

If you’ve previously had employees that didn’t fit your view of how to be great at sales, investigate why they failed, especially if you had a great feeling about them from the start. Learn from your past mistakes so you can evolve and go on to recruit a successful salesperson on this occasion.

Write a job description that actually speaks to candidates

A common mistake when writing a job description is including too much information. Instead, it should be clear and concise, including the key traits that you’re looking for, such as experience, skills and culture fit.

A trick to effective sales recruitment is setting out clear expectations in the job description and the job advert that are attainable and achievable. Be honest about what a typical day might look like as failing to do so may lead to disillusionment and a drop in motivation further down the line.

To that end, make sure you provide a clear idea of your working environment and its requirements. Important aspects include team sizes, processes and frameworks and the software tools which are used to get the job done.

Make sure you define the mandatory skills and experience that you’re seeking and what sets them apart from other expertise that are ‘nice to have’ but not completely necessary when it comes to fulfilling the role in question. This will help to ascertain an applicant’s suitability to the role.

Take a direct approach to net good candidates

It’s important to be proactive when tracking down the perfect candidate. Using a variety of portals - including social media - to advertise your vacancy will give you the opportunity to reach as many potential sales candidates as possible.

Your first port of call will most likely involve searching for candidates who are actively looking for a new role. However, don’t limit yourself to this step when trying to find talent, particularly if it’s for a more niche senior level hire.

This is why it’s often worth the extra effort to reach out to potential sales candidates who aren’t actively searching for a new role (a common aspect in any expert sales recruiters repertoire). With a persuasive and personalised pitch, you may well be able to generate interest in your company offering to a passive candidate.

Active candidates will likely be looking at online job posting sites or job boards such as Glassdoor. Meanwhile, passive candidates are best reached via social media platforms like LinkedIn or via tailored email outreach that showcases the exciting opportunities the sales role presents.

Review candidates strategically

While it’s important to be open minded about a person’s experience and background, you need to be clear on the aspects you won’t compromise on when it comes to a new hire.

It’s all very well interviewing a high flier with great sales experience, but if they operate in a different sector to you, this performance might not translate across roles. This is because industry experience sometimes trumps sales skills, which is why it’s important to have strategic processes in place to find the right fit for your business.

Additionally, engaging someone less experienced to fill a role with a lot of responsibility can put undue pressure on both of you, particularly when recruiting sales professionals who will have targets and KPIs to hit. Taking this hiring risk can often lead to a costly - not to mention time consuming - failure, no matter how much promise the candidate shows.

When it comes to finding great people, a sales recruiter should look for a candidate with a consistent track record and impressive results from previous companies. Ask the candidate to share their story and don’t use unexplained employment gaps against them as there might be a valid reason as to why they occurred. Finally, be wary of candidates who boast about their achievements without anything tangible to show for it. Instead, focus on how they have triumphed in previous roles.

Devise a clear interview process

Make sure you have a structured interview process in place for your sales recruitment to find the right talent. It will likely follows these key stages:

Informal chat: First impressions matter, but formal chats can mute the brightest and boldest of personalities. By starting with an informal chat, you can more easily gauge culture fit, emotional intelligence and listening skills. Have an icebreaker up your sleeve or a series of personality based questions to get the conversation rolling.

Formal meeting: Follow up with a more formal meeting to stress test Sales training and industry expertise. This is an opportunity to ask more pointed and specific questions regarding all areas of the business. Effective salespeople should be able to give comprehensive answers to difficult questions, like how they would handle a certain situation or important meeting. You can also invite key members of the existing team to meet the potential candidate so they can evaluate them too.

Presentation: Ask the candidate to prepare and deliver a Sales presentation for key stakeholders to give you an opportunity to assess how they perform under pressure. Sales is dependent on people that can be persuasive and engaging, so keep an eye on their body language, ability to make emotional connections and product or services knowledge. 

Interview with intention

Sales recruitment involves designing your interviews in a format that guarantees you’ll swiftly get the answers and information you need. Clear expectations are key to hiring a salesperson who fits your requirements.

Examples of questions you can use to generate the type of answers that make your decision easier include:

  • Responsibility: Tell us about a mistake you’ve made in the past. What did you do about it? What was the outcome?

  • Being goal oriented: What do you plan on achieving in your first three months in this role? What are your sales goals? How will you make sure to hit your sales quotas?

  • Motivation: When was the most recent ‘no’ you got from a prospect? What did you do next

  • Adaptability: Tell us about a time when your boss changed the sales strategy, processes or tools you used. What did you do? And what happened?

  • Company knowledge: What is it about this company that makes you think you’d be a good fit here?

  • Persistence: Tell us about a time you got told ‘no’ but still ended up converting a prospect? How would you stay motivated to close deals with prospects that have long Sales cycles

  • Training: Tell us about something you learned in the last year that you applied to your current Sales practices. What do you think you still need to learn to become a better salesperson

  • Tools: Are you familiar with the tools we currently use (or similar alternatives)? Given that you do have experience with the tool, provide examples of how you would perform certain tasks.

Make an offer

The interview process does take time, but the best candidates may well be speaking to other recruiters so it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Don’t wait to give an offer to a great salesperson as you might miss out on hiring them before someone else does.

If you think you’ve found a potential top performer and want to hire them, make sure they know you are keen. Keeping candidates in the loop will prevent them from accepting offers elsewhere before you make yours.

A great salesperson can be judged by their ability to negotiate and you can see this first hand when you make them an initial offer. They will also expertly negotiate the best salary possible. There’s even a good chance your candidate may refuse your first offer so aim to give them what they want, within reason, if your gut feeling is that they’re the perfect fit.

Provide seamless onboarding

Integrating your new salesperson into the team doesn’t happen automatically after the contract is signed. You’ll need to familiarise them with the company culture and help them understand what they’ll need to bring to the table to meet business demands and your customers’ needs.

If you want to build a team with a high retention rate, take the necessary time to bring them up to speed, by training them on specific processes and explaining your business’s mission, which will ultimately empower them moving forwards.

Within the first month, make sure you:

  • Define objectives: Make sure your new salesperson understands your core objectives. If you need them to be productive by their second month, make this clear so they can work within your expectations.

  • Share company values: Make sure they understand your values as this will make them feel like part of the team. It will also help them to properly represent your company during sales meetings.

  • Provide training: Focus on delivering the training required for your new hire to understand your processes and cover what they need to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Include common sales metrics and buyer personas, alongside your team management and leadership approach.

To find out more about finding the perfect sales candidate for your business, get in touch with our team.

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