If you want to meet your company’s sales goals consistently, you have to have an outstanding sales force behind you. But how do you know if you’ve got the right people who will get the job done? And how do you get more of them?
Hiring business to business sales reps has become almost as much of an art as selling the products or services themselves. It is imperative that sufficient research and time be spent on finding and hiring the right salespeople for your business. Once you have nailed down a method that works for you, you can grow your sales force to a team of skilled professionals that will work for you.
The members of your sales force are acting as the face of your company. They are the ones who build relationships with your prospects, learn more about their needs and pain points, and deliver the results they are looking for. No matter what information is available about your company or what the reviews may say, your sales reps will be the first face-to-face impression prospects have with your company. Make sure you have the best team of people to make the best first impression.
A company that has a great sales force in place focuses on winning more business and selling solutions, and it is your job to hire the right business to business sales reps and enable them with the proper tools to succeed.
There’s no hiding the fact that the recruiting process is stressful and time-consuming, which is why only 22% of companies say they feel confident in their ability to put together the right team of people. But there are some tips and tactics you can utilize to help make sure you are part of the 22% that knows you’ve got the best sales force supporting your company and products.
The Current Shift In Key Qualities
In this digital age, with more and more advancements in technology, solutions, and strategies, there is a shift from traditional sales skills like pitching or negotiating to more strategic skills like building business alliances and partner management. These are now the kind of qualities that make a great sales rep.
With more of a shift towards a technological focus, your salespeople should have access to, be familiar with, and able to use sales technology and digital enablement tools. It is impossible for new hires now to get away with not utilizing sales technology. Another important aspect is as the use of sales data and data analytics continues to grow throughout companies and organizations, it is essential to look for candidates who can confidently evaluate and mine data for key sales insights.
How To Find The Best
Hiring the best sales force, that will continue to grow your revenue, doesn’t have to be daunting. Once you start implementing some strategies that are proven effective in weeding out the best of the best, making these strategies a part of your routine hiring process, and bringing in some of your key resources you have available you can be sure you’re able to weed through candidates effectively. The tactics below will help you zero in on the strategic sales stars who will be the best business to business sales reps for you. They will also be more efficient, digitally adept, and motivated.
Strategy #1 - Know What Qualities You Are Looking For
Before you do any interviews or anything, you need to know exactly what you are looking for. What qualities do you feel would make a great sales rep? Keep in mind, the person selling half-a-million dollar solutions to C-level executives in large corporations need different skills than someone selling $5K products to mid-level managers at a small business.
But, some of the best sales reps all have some core characteristics that you should look for when hiring new members of your sales force. Here are just a few:
Strategic Skills - These are different, and rarer, than the traditional transactional product-centric skills like negotiating and sales leadership. Strategic skills are more people-focused and consultative. They include key things like complex selling, partner selling, and building business alliances. The first place to look for these skills, or “tags”, is on your candidate’s LinkedIn profile.
Coachability - You’ve been successful in your sales and management career and you’ve learned from your mistakes. You have a wealth of knowledge to share with your sales team. But, you have to have a sales force that is open to learning. Look for sales reps who are not only open to receiving constructive criticism but are able to adjust and improve. This is a great trait to ask for details about when calling references of your candidates.
High Emotional Quotient (EQ) - A person’s EQ is much more valuable than one’s Intelligence Quotient (IQ) when it comes to success in sales and business in general. This is because most consumers buy an emotional outcome and not only the product itself. The ability of a salesperson to easily build rapport with just about anyone and naturally initiate conversation is what sets stellar sales reps apart from average sales reps. Most importantly, they actively and genuinely listen when their prospects are talking and genuinely seek to understand their problems and alleviate their pain points.
Self-awareness - You want to reps with self-awareness and the ability to explain their previous experience and more importantly, the why and how behind their successes and failures. If a candidate can’t take you through their past sales numbers during the interview process or articulate why they’re a top-performer compared to their peers, it’s a definite red flag. More importantly, a lack of self-awareness means they’ll miss opportunities to capitalize on their strengths and increase sales and fail to improve in their weak areas.
Lack of self-consciousness - A lack of self-consciousness should go hand in hand with self-awareness. You don’t want a sales force that is afraid of creating a healthy level of tension with challenging clients or bucking the status quo a little. It’s important your business to business sales reps empathize with client pain points but still capitalize on opportunities without second-guessing themselves.
“Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.” -Daniel Pink
Another great place to look at to determine what qualities you are looking for in a great sales rep is your current top performers from your sales force. What do you think makes them great? Why do they consistently have high numbers? One way to determine the answer to these valuable questions is to use an assessment tool to identify those valuable traits they have and hire for those traits. “Most organizations have some type of profile or assessment that creates a standard relative to what’s needed to succeed,” says Ryan Estis, chief experience officer at Ryan Estis & Associates, a sales and business consultancy in Minneapolis. “A lot of good sales organizations are trying to validate their selection decisions with assessments that go beyond subjective interviews.”
Source: Primetime Recruiting Services
Strategy #2 - Get Your Current Sales Team Involved
You have an exceptional team of “interviewers” available at your fingertips - your current sales force. Anytime you are in the process of hiring new sales reps, get your current sales team involved in the process. This is a great opportunity to gauge how your candidates interact with the employees they would be working with on a daily basis.
Your current salespeople will also give you an unbiased view and valuable insights into why or why not a candidate would be a good fit for the company. Listen to their concerns and insight - even if it goes against your own opinion.
Strategy #3 - Give Your Interviewee “Homework” Ahead Of Time
Many people who have ever gone through an interview for a sales position have heard and had to work through the old “sell me this pin” convention. This scenario can be valuable in testing a seller’s ability to think strategically and quickly. But there’s a new spin on this tactic that can help show you how your candidate will (or will not) apply new-age tactics. You can do this by assigning your candidates “homework” ahead of time before their interview.
Provide them with a hypothetical target client account that they might pursue on the job. Have them provide insights into the company that are valuable as the sales rep and how they would engage the buyer in the organization as a trusted advisor and not just another salesperson trying to sell a product. Or you could ask them to present to you a new sales strategy or tactic, or new sales process technique, that they feel is one of the most valuable to utilize and why your company should be doing it.
These tactics will show you their capacity for strategic thinking, creativity, and selling from a more people-centric approach.
Strategy #4 - Invest In Your Sales Team
In today’s business and sales environment, your sales force can’t succeed unless you provide them with the tools to allow them to be successful. Keep this in mind when it comes to your applicants. They are interviewing you and your company just as much as you are interviewing them. If they don’t see that you have sufficient budget set aside to equip them with the proper tools and software to build, maintain, and grow personalized relationships with prospects and clients, why would they want to join your sales team? It is critical to release your budget when it comes to training, enablement, and career development.
To nurture relationships with prospects and clients on a large scale. You must have a balance of automation and personalization. One way to do this is to utilize an all-in-one software like Map My Customer to streamline workflow, increase productivity, and generate new leads.
Give your salespeople the training needed to combine their innate skills with sales software, and you’ll have a confident and competent sales force ready to fight for you for many years to come.
Strategy #5 - Aim To Create a Sales Force That Thinks Big
Aim to hire business to business sale reps that don’t just focus on their numbers for the week. You want people who can think big. Ones who can sit in an interview and answer the question ‘What kinds of problems or pain points do you see yourself solving for your customers, our company, or society as a whole in the next five years?’ You want people who want to, and even more importantly aren’t afraid to, make an impact on this world.
The more a salesperson can look outside of just their daily bubble and look at the big picture and their impact on it, the more you have a person who will strive to make the sales environment around them better and push your other sales reps to do the same.
"Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission." -Zig Ziglar
Source: Ring DNA
Wrapping It All Up
To build for your company a team of the strongest sales force around, you have to spend the time to make sure you are hiring the right fit. A sales superstar has innate strategic skills that will set them apart from the rest who may still just be focusing on traditional product-centered skills and approaches.
By utilizing some or all of the tactics above, you can ease the burden of weeding through the pack to find the hidden gems who will not only drive more and more revenue to your company but continue to push themselves and those around them daily for improvement. Your business can’t grow without a team of great salespeople, now start creating yours!
Have you utilized some of these strategies already and built a sales force to be reckoned with? Let us know how you did it. We want to hear from you!