24. August 2012 16:08
from "Sellutions" South Florida Business Journal by Greta SchulzDate: Friday, August 17, 2012,
I am currently working with a well-established organization and the following questions arose (as they do fairly regularly):How can I avoid making expensive hiring mistakes?How can I hire salespeople who will actually sell on value and not price?How do I find the top sales people and recognize that they are successful?I thought I would answer them here since it’s an ongoing organizational issue.Many resumes, which are what we typically look at when we are deciding who to hire, look good. Most people can make themselves look presentable for an interview. However, most organizations spend too much money hiring the wrong sales managers and salespeople. In most cases, it takes a year to replace those ineffective individuals. That costs you thousands of dollars in lost time, wasted wages and lost revenue.Traditional hiring approaches are typically reactive, ineffective and flawed. The decision-maker becomes dissatisfied with sagging sales numbers and says: “Get some new blood in here.” This promotes a recruiting blitz involving advertising, search firms and asking employees to identify attractive talent. Then we search, sort through resumes, do interviews, make offers, and hope and pray.This time-worn process often leads to failure. Profiling or benchmarking the ideal candidate for your organization, and testing or assessing to hire the right people that fit into your organization is imperative today.Step 1: BenchmarkingIdentify the right candidate. The question CEOs need to ask themselves to determine the ideal sales candidate is: What are our primary target markets?Whom should they be calling on, and at what level in the organization? Are they doing that now?What is the financial commitment required of a prospect? This will show the comfort level of the individual selling if they always sold at that level.What are your competitive advantages? Are you the least expensive or most expensive in your industry? Are you very well known or brand new?What is your prospecting approach? Are you very proactive? Do you make cold calls from a list? What’s the level of product knowledge in-house and in the community?Step 2: SearchCompanies that practice continual sales hiring – as opposed to as-needed hiring – do things differently. A salesperson is an asset, not a liability. So why are you not always looking for someone better than your best salesperson? If your approach is recruiting top-level salespeople, they are not always available when you need them. The best ones aren’t looking for a job for long, if at all.Continuous recruiting starts with developing a staffing plan that helps you manage both the additional and potential reductions in your staff. Developing a plan months in advance will help you avoid crisis hiring. Make recruitment an important aspect of your corporate culture.Step 3: QualifyWhether you outsource your recruiting or do it internally, make sure you know what you are looking for. Understand what qualities you’re looking for and know where to look.Pre-qualifying on the phone is important. Your salespeople will likely be on the phone at least some of the time, so you need to know how they handle themselves. Find that out by asking some questions and seeing how they react, getting a feel for tonality and articulation. This will also help you avoid wasting time on an unnecessary meeting.Step 4: Assessing the candidateUse an objective performance test to disqualify or validate your candidate. We tend to make decisions in our gut. Though our gut feeling is very strong, it’s also based on our own personal history and experiences. That is a good thing, but it needs to be used in addition to something that’s more intellectual and factual. Having a test to be able to look at the candidate objectively is very important.Step 5: The interviewThe interview is the most critical step. An effective interviewer sets the stage for the candidate to act and respond in the same manner he or she would with a prospect.To separate the high achievers from the ineffective salespeople, you need to stay away from the ”so tell me about yourself approach.” Get the candidate through a tough selling situation right away and see how they handle themselves.For example, it’s important to push the candidate back some. Put them in a situation they’ll be when they try to sell to a prospect. They are not going to have an easy situation every time.I know this may be a little uncomfortable for most of us, but it is important to get a feel for how they react with a little pressure because that’s what sales is about. They will be getting pressure out in the field, so let’s give them a little pressure in the interview and see if they can stand up to the challenge.Greta Schulz is a sales consultant for businesses and entrepreneurs. For more sales training tips and tools, or to ask her a question, go to www.schulzbusiness.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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