It's probably fair to say that the quality of your sales hiring techniques sits near the very top of the list of factors determining how your company performs. It's really that simple-any company that depends on sales people to keep profits moving in needs to be extremely, extremely aware of its sales hiring techniques, because poor techniques result in poor hires which results in poor teams. A team that starts out superb can quickly fall to the disrupting impact of a few bad apples. Once can't simply choose the recruit with the best pedigree and expect to build a high quality sales team. Sales hiring techniques involve far more than that. And the most frightening thing is this: Most companies won't recognize their sales hiring techniques are sub-par until it's too late.
Fortunately, you're not in one of those companies. This article's here to help you figure out where you stand on sales hiring techniques, figure out why you're doing poorly (or well), and make decisions on how to hire moving forward. These three simple questions should give you wealth of information to ponder as you move forward in revising or refining your sales hiring techniques.
Who Handles Hiring?
It's a simple question, and most companies will have bad answers. If you leave it to an individual not specifically trained to the task, it's almost inevitable that you have, are, or will be reaping the costs of poor sales hiring techniques. That's not an indictment of the team leader, HR manager, or executive doing the hiring, so much as a reminder that we rarely understand how much expertise goes into doing a job right. It's easy to common sense your way into bad sales hiring techniques, meaning it's almost inevitable for most non-experts.
The solution, then, is simple. If you don't have an experienced sales recruiter, get one. In-house and third party options both work; the size of your company and your need for new blood will determine whether developing an in-house recruiter/team or utilizing a third-party recruiter will work out better, but either option is far superior to the alternatives.
How Good Have Past Hires Been?
Of course, it doesn't matter much who you have doing the hiring if they're giving you garbage employees. Well, that's unfair-an employee can be a genius expert in his or her field, capable of performing at a level beyond every other sales person in your company, and still be a terrible hire from a number of viewpoints. Maybe you're paying too much for too little extra benefit. Maybe they much up the company culture, creating a poisonous atmosphere that damages the output of their peers. Maybe you keep hiring superstars, but they keep quitting as soon as a bigger company accepts their application.
Any of these can have a disastrous impact on your bottom line, and they all stem from subpar sales hiring techniques. The secret lay in figuring out what went wrong and endeavoring to avoid it in the future. The inverse works as well-when you absolutely grab the perfect hire, figure out what made them so excellent.
What are We Looking At?
This ties directly in to the previous question. When you look at potential recruits, what are you telling your recruiter to look at? Are they looking at resumes? At degrees? Writing samples, how well they interview, where they've worked before? Perhaps the biggest traps in sales hiring are limiting your hiring pool based on factors that aren't particularly important--a good hire can learn a new ERP solution or product type quickly--and ignoring soft data points-if you've analyzed a sales team before, you should understand how important soft factors can be in determining performance.
The secret lay in divorcing needs from wants and really understanding which is which. Allow obvious details to obfuscate subtle, important ones lay at the core of terrible sales hiring techniques.