Business leaders like to think they make companies run, but everybody knows businesses go nowhere without great salespeople. Like cheerleaders, they are out in front selling the products and services that keep companies going. The best ones know how to work a crowd and work with colleagues.
Hiring the right salespeople can make or break your business, and the best ones are team players.
These high performers collaborate within their organizations, working with marketing, finance, and product development. If you know how to hire a sales team like that, then you know how to grow a business.
Screen for Skills That Your Stars Demonstrate
If you already have top sales performers at your organization, use an assessment tool to identify what makes them successful and then hire a sales team with those traits.
Most organizations have some type of profile or assessment that creates a standard relative to what’s needed to succeed, which should be trackable and measurable. The most successful sales organizations are trying to validate their selection decisions with assessments that go beyond subjective interviews.
Using an assessment tool can help you create a behavioral interviewing process that screens for the traits and competencies that ensure success at your organization. Because innate traits are difficult, if not impossible to change, you can help ensure your new salespeople are a good fit from the start.
Behavioral interview questions may include the following:
- Explain how you handled a situation where you had to choose between what was ethically right and taking the easy route. What did you learn from that experience?
- How have you responded to difficult critical feedback in the past?
- What can you tell me about our company and it’s products [or services]?
Hire a Sales Team of Helpers, Not Just Closers
Salespeople can’t get by on simply selling and moving on, as it’s rarely a one-step process. Customers expect them to understand their business and provide insights and advice that might not even have anything to do with the product or service you’re trying to sell them.
Customers have more information and alternate choices, so they have elevated expectations when it comes to personalization and customization. This puts a new kind of pressure on both the sales organization and the individual contributors, as salespeople are less likely to be selling a “one-size-fits-all” gadget and more likely to be selling a customized solution.
When hiring salespeople, look for people who think of themselves as helpers and teachers. They’ll be helping customers think, execute, solve problems, and approach business differently, establishing trust along the way. They’re still trying to make the sale, but they’re almost more like consultants in this capacity.
This “helping” approach should work internally as well. The best salespeople within fast-growing organizations are doing a lot of internal collaboration with the marketing, finance, and product teams. Salespeople sometimes are even asked to contribute to R&D and product development, which means the best salespeople are collaborators.
Ask About Data Skills
Working with data is increasingly important in sales, as more tools that help salespeople evaluate prospects and customers, evaluate trends, analyze demographics, and review customer feedback allow them to be more efficient. Many sales representatives still rely on gut instinct and people skills, which can be invaluable, but data is key to the future of sales.
As the use of data and analytics grows throughout organizations, look for sales candidates who can evaluate and mine data for insights. Sales professionals who are excited to work with technology and data are a huge asset to your entire company, not just your sales team. You should also keep an open mind about “old school” salespeople who have a growth mindset and are open to learning how to use these new technologies.
Seek Digital Marketing Skills
Some of the best salespeople today might be described as “micromarketers.” The forward-thinking salespeople you need for your company are using social media and other tech tools to contribute to online conversations about the industry. This new level of thought leadership plays a vital role in sales, especially considering the potentially viral nature of well-placed, sharply produced social media content.
When you hire a sales team for social selling, you want candidates who have a robust and professional presence on social media. They share insights from others as well as original ideas and information on how companies can use those insights for themselves.
The platform and target audience may vary—salespeople in some industries may use Twitter more than Instagram, for example—but understanding the overall value of social media and promoting ideas through it is a vital skill for salespeople.
In light of all these new skills and roles, you may be wondering if compensation models have changed. Truth is, they haven’t changed all that much. However, when salespeople are compensated on performance through incentives and bonuses, such as quarterly bonuses, they are much more engaged.
When setting up compensation models, stick to the tried-and-true. Salespeople are more committed when they have some kind of incentive or variable-based compensation. However, you also want to avoid caps on commissions, which have been shown to hurt sales.
Hire a Sales Team for All Seasons
Companies need to hire sales teams that are multi-dimensional—salespeople who collaborate with others, help customers, use analytics, and leverage social media. Find the best salespeople to grow your business quickly, by posting your job opening for free on Monster’s world class job board.