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Drive a Sales Transformation in 2020 by Hiring Better Salespeople

November 20, 2019

hiring better salespeople

In an ideal job market, we would have a lot of interested job candidates. We would have the upper hand in choosing the best of the best for the job. I think most organizations would agree that, from their perspective, we are not currently living in an ideal job market, but choosing the right employees remains a priority as we look towards 2020. 

As we approach the year-end, many organizations are focused on sales numbers and sales team performance. This is a good time to review and optimize business processes and strategic direction, and your hiring processes should absolutely be considered during this review as you work to move your company in the right direction. 

Increasing your revenue is likely a key strategic initiative in 2020. Maybe it’s forging into new markets or geographies, finding new distribution channels, or getting a new product to market, but the bottom line is – we all need sales. And, sales often mean people to get that job done. With so much riding on the success of salespeople to help companies meet their strategic objectives, one would assume that a lot of effort and thought has gone into selecting the best people for that job. However, there are many companies that don’t have strong selection procedures in place for these roles. 

What are some ways in which you can alter your recruitment and selection strategies to not only fill your sales roles, but fill positions with the right salespeople, especially during this shift in the labor market? 

Many companies rely on interviews to select people, especially sales people, because after all, their verbal skills are the only thing that makes them successful, right? Interviewers may ask the person to elaborate on things found in a resume. This is not a bad thing, but does it tell the whole story? Do you have all of the necessary information about the person to be sure they will thrive in your company? Have you ever made a mistake with a key sales hire that you thought would be the “knight in shining armor" – someone with superior communication skills, who could tell a good story, but who was not even remotely matched to the type of sale they needed to do?

There are many things you can do to help improve your “hit rate” in finding the best sales people for your company. Here are three suggestions that you can consider, and can make you select people who are much more likely to be successful at your company:

  1. Find out what motivates the person. This is critical to helping you find someone who will fit within your company, culture, and the job they will be asked to do. Everyone is motivated differently – many leadership training programs teach managers to look for the things that motivate the individual and use those as incentives if possible. It just makes sense that you would try to see what motivates the individual before you hire them and see how what they desire aligns with what you offer. For example, if someone is highly motivated by money, they may not enjoy a sales job where there is limited upside.

  2. Determine their natural sales style. This is important because people tend to excel in situations that play to their strengths. For example, if the product you sell is more technical and tends to have a fairly long sales cycle, a person who employs a more consultative sales style, enjoys learning the technical details, and prefers selling solutions over products, may be a better fit.

  3. Measure the competencies proven to differentiate salespeople. By nature, most sales people make their living persuading others through their verbal prowess, and their ability to persuade others to see their product as something the person could not live without. Certainly you can measure verbal communication style in an interview, but if you allow a candidate’s verbal capability to be the sole determinate regarding their hire-ability, you would be missing many other things that could potentially impede their success down the road. Things like their drive, reading people and situations effectively, knowing when and how to adapt in sales situations, effective time management, accountability, and intelligence all play a role in differentiating the average from those with the potential to be great.   

As we prepare to kick off 2020 with a focus on sales transformation, over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some of our top insights, research, and advice to help you hire the right sales people to drive your organizational goals.

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Carolyn Cosco Carolyn Cosco is a Strategic Account Manager at PSI. Carolyn has over 20 years of experience in both sales and consulting, working across industries and levels both domestically and internationally. Carolyn’s superpower is helping people and organizations achieve their greatest potential through their human capital.