sales hiring tips

10 HIRING TIPS FOR SALES LEADERS

INTRODUCTION

A great sales process is repeatable and scalable. It takes into account both the art and science of selling. A great sales leader will be able to take all of the sales cliches (eg. “culture”, “objection handling”, “always be closing”) and operationalize them. Once you understand and have the art and science down, it is as easy as increasing your headcount – that’s how you scale a sales team. If you take the time to do the first part right (understand the art and science behind sales), everything should just multiply.

I know I just really simplified that but it should get you thinking. One huge variable here is the people. If you don’t have the right people, you will never be able to win and scale successfully. You will always be chasing.

TIP 01 – BUILD A CANDIDATE PROFILE – AND THEN SOME

Ask yourself what does your candidate profile look like right now?

If you want an outstanding hire and you want to build a team of overachievers, you don’t want someone who just checks off all the boxes but rather someone who checks off all the boxes and then some.

If you were to rate each candidate that you hired on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, 5 stars would probably only mean that they did exactly what you expected them to do. If that’s all you want from them then it is a good hire but if you want outstanding hires, you need to hire outstanding people. Consider building a totally unachievable 10 star candidate profile, then begin to work your way backwards until you land on a profile that is outstanding but still achievable. That is your new candidate profile. Hire them.

TIP 02 – KNOW YOUR PROFILE

“If you are actively hiring but at the same time wondering what an outstanding seller looks like, you’re doing it all wrong”

As a business, you should have an ideal customer profile (ICP). The reason you have an ICP is for direction and focus. It allows you to focus your processes in all areas of the business. As a hiring manager, you should have an ideal candidate profile (ICP) for the exact same reasons. It gives you direction and focus. It allows you to tailor your specific hiring process for a particular quality of candidate. This includes your questions, case studies, role plays, logistics, etc. Your processes can then be tailored to these particular candidates which will help you win them over, and when you win them over, you know, with as much certainty as possible, that they are the candidates that will make your team better.

TIP 03 – STICK TO THE EXACT SAME HIRING PROCESS

Only do this once you know that your process actually works.

If you ask a question in a particular way with one candidate, you should ask the next candidate that same question, the exact same way. This will help you get accurate data (answers) and allow you to objectively compare candidates. Too often I hear people asking questions in different ways and using different language – all this is doing is giving one candidate an advantage over the other. If you do this, you are not able to compare candidates equally. For example, if one candidate completed the entire interview process in one three-hour onsite interview and the other had their process split into parts, you won’t be able to objectively compare them. I would also suggest asking all of your candidates the exact same set of questions, don’t skip any.

TIP 04 – HIRE FOR THEIR PERFORMANCE CEILING – NOT WHERE THEY ARE NOW

This is certainly one of the hardest things to quantify. The logic here is that if you have confidence in your coaching and sales processes, you will be able to get a candidate to their performance ceiling and to their full potential. If their performance ceiling is high, then you will have added a very strong team member.
If you are comparing two candidates and only compare where they are at now, you will miss out on all of the upside and potential of the candidate with the high performance ceiling. This might be the difference between an average and an exceptional hire. Hiring for a performance ceiling will also give you a hiring advantage because other companies are likely only hiring for “where they are at now.” You will have access to candidates that other companies potentially refused because they were short sighted in their approach.

TIP 05 – HIRE FOR INTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL, NOT EXTERNAL

“You can’t coach for this, and it is so simple to measure in an interview.”

All you need to do is ask the candidate to stack rank themselves against their team. If they are not number one, ask them what number one did differently than them. If you are interviewing someone with an external locus of control, usually what follows is a conversation about how territories are misaligned, the other sellers got lucky, favoritism – all things they can’t control. Someone with an internal locus of control will very quickly be able to specifically tell you about why the other person was outperforming them. They might talk about how they realized they were missing a skill set or things that they learned from the top performer. All things that they can control and improve. Hire the person with the internal locus of control.

TIP 06 – DON’T MAKE EMOTIONAL DECISIONS

We all make bad hires. I will share a real story about two bad hires that I will never forget. Both hires were made because I let my emotions get in the way of my hiring principles.

Bad hires have a negative impact on your team and your resources. They are also expensive and typically cost the company around 30% of their first year earnings. One of them interviewed at the company four times previously and I felt bad for them because they really wanted to work for the particular company. The second time, I got caught up in a sad life story. Both times I deviated from my ICP and I got burned.

Don’t let emotions get in the way of hiring outstanding sellers. Emotions are important but they should only help guide your decisions.
Don’t do something to help someone else if it could hurt you and your team.

TIP 07 – HEAD, HEART AND BRIEFCASE

It is important that the process you design can test for the head, heart and briefcase – this will ensure you are interviewing the “whole” person.

  • Head is the person’s cognitive ability
  • Heart is their values, passion, interests and beliefs
  • Briefcase is their education, knowledge and experiences

From my experience if you can hire a group of sellers who all share a similar “heart” you will be able to build a great team culture. This doesn’t mean that each seller must have identical interests but rather, this means that they share similar broad values, passions, interests and beliefs.

Moreover, isolating for SMB candidates. They typically don’t have much selling experience (or a weak briefcase). This makes the head and heart even more important. Ensure that the head and heart values align with your team and organizational goals. Alternatively, if a candidate has a fantastic briefcase but is lacking the head or heart characteristics you are looking for, it will almost certainly be a bad hire.

TIP 08 – AN INTERVIEW IS NOT ENOUGH

What else are you doing with the candidate?

When you are looking for high growth in your company, you need top performers on your teams and your classic interview will not give you the information you need to make the right decision.

Consider adding some of the enhancements below to your hiring process.

    • Wonderlic test
    • Group interviews
    • Personality test
    • Homework assignments
    • Case studies
    • Role plays
    • Casual interviews
    • Detailed interviews

I personally try to work everything mentioned above into my hiring process. It might seem like alot but if executed correctly, it will help ensure you are continually hiring outstanding sellers.

TIP 09 – DO NOT GET DESPERATE – EVER

There are plenty of outstanding sellers in the city, you just need to find them, attract them and retain them. I would rather pass on a candidate I am not 100% sure about, than to risk hiring them and them failing. Oftentimes people look at me in disbelief when they hear this but, I trust my process and the system above anything. If the candidate doesn’t impress during all parts of the process, it raises red flags. From my experience, whenever there is one red flag, there are typically many more. And when making new additions to your team, my suggestion is to look for outstanding candidates with no red flags.

Even if you are behind headcount, do not get desperate and deviate from the process you have built and that you know works. The short term gain of a desperate hire will cause long term pain on your team and for your business.

TIP 10 – TWO-WAY GOOD FIT

I start every single interview thanking the candidate for meeting with me, letting them know that I understand how competitive the market is for top talent and appreciate them choosing to sit here with me, and finally sharing with them that as much as I want to use our time to ensure that they are a great fit for my company and myself, I want them to focus on making sure that my company and I are great fits for them. If you are looking for outstanding sellers, you need someone who isn’t just looking for a job but rather someone who is invested in their career and learning.

If a candidate is a great fit for myself and the company but, me and the company are not a great fit for them, it will certainly not work out in the long run. I suggest looking for a two-way good fit as this will help ensure you have long term success on your team.

SUPPORT

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Talk soon — Ryan

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