5 Tips For Turning New Hires into Sales Superstars
We are paid professionals for identifying, interviewing, screening and delivering superstar candidates for our clients. We get paid handsome fees for our work. So why is it so darn difficult to turn our own internal hires into superstars? After all, we're the experts, are we not?
let me share with you 5 tips for ensuring your newly hired IT staffing sales reps become sales superstars.
Stop Focusing on Experience, Develop Your Sales Hiring Profile and Job Scorecard
One of the more common mistakes sales leaders make is focusing their search criteria on identifying sales professionals with specific experience, typically industry experience. If you speak with any seasoned sales executive they will tell you that hiring the “experienced sales rep” can often be fool’s gold.
Instead, sales leaders should focus on developing a very specific hiring profile and job scorecard. Sales leaders should define the key characteristics or attributes that make up a top performing IT staffing sales rep. The characteristics should be personality traits. Keep in mind, this can and will vary from organization to organization.
Why? There are different variables that you need to account for which include:
• Sales Strategy What is your sales strategy? Are you going after small businesses, mid-‐ market or large MSP or VMS accounts? What exactly are you selling? What problems do you solve? How complex is your customer’s purchasing process?
• Buyer Persona’s What are the different buyer persona’s the sales person will be to selling to? HR executives, Procurement executives? The director of application development, etc. What are the “pain points” for each of these buyer personas? Each buyer type has a different persona that requires your sales person to appeal to.
• Your Sales Process What is your sales process? Do you have a sales process? How long and complex is your sales process? Your answers to these questions will weed out sales professionals who possess certain personality traits or characteristics and also help you hone in on the right attributes of your hiring profile.
Your sales strategy, sales process and your buyers’ persona(s) will have an impact on what key characteristics or attributes you need to focus on. Beyond that, here are my top five key characteristics that I assess when interviewing a new sales representative.
Can They Handle Rejection?
This business is brutal. You know it and I know it. The competition is fierce and getting the attention of buyers is difficult. As a result, your sales reps are going to hear the word “no” and they’re going to hear it often. So can they handle rejection? I'm not asking, "are they good at handling objections," mind you, I'm asking can they personally handle rejection after rejection? Will they continue to prospect after they have been rejected multiple times? If they can’t they will fail. It’s that simple. Why set them and you up for failure?
How do I determine if they can handle rejection? I conduct the initial phone screen and at the end of the call, regardless of how well it has gone, I tell the candidate “I don’t think you have what what it takes. Then I go silent. I’m looking for a reaction from the rep. If they put their tail between their legs and say “OK, thanks for your time,” then I know I have just successfully screened out a candidate and avoided a bad hire. If on the other hand the candidate pushes back and says “what do you mean?,” or “what do you need to think over?,” or “what concerns do you have?” I know I have someone worth speaking with. I especially like it when I hear a little emotion in their voice. That tells me they have passion and self-‐confidence. When this happens I continue the conversation by sending out another objection. It’s a game and true sales people embrace it. They will push and push. I want those competitors on my team, assuming they’re coachable. Remember, you’d rather have a sales person that you have to “pull back” then “push.”
Ever hire a salesperson who interviews very well and has all the right answers but isn’t willing to take your ideas and suggestions? These types of people don’t grow or develop, which is frustrating both to them and to you, their employer. Make sure your new sales reps are coachable. Are they comfortable with new ideas? Can they handle constructive criticism? Will they take your advice and guidance or will they just nod and simply acknowledge your advice but take no action?
If you don’t have a sales process in place, you essentially have no way to train your new employee. The mistake many staffing leaders make when they hire a new salesperson is to assume that shadowing is the same thing as training. That’s a flawed approach. When someone shadows a salesperson, he’s not getting any training from that person; he’s simply being exposed to that person’s sales style. There’s no sales process or methodology being taught. In short, you're leaving the rep up to their means for how they will sell your services. This means your brand new rep who you think is going to be awesome will only sell in the way in which they're most comfortable (quiet office, lots of email and little cold calling sound familiar?).
To set your new sales rep up for success you need to have a sales process mapped out internally. And your new hire sales training should be designed help your employees execute each step in your sales process.
Establish Quantifiable Goals
It amazes me how few IT staffing sales reps either don't have or are not clear on what their sales quota is and/or how they are measured. If you're not talking with your new hire in the INTERVIEW PROCESS about how will they will be measured and what their sales quota will be, you are not ready to make a hire. Think about it. If as leaders we don't have those things in place before the interview process we are basically saying goals and performance are not that important and coming in second place is acceptable. You want to establish expectations on performance BEFORE you start paying your new hire.
Hiring good sales people is never easy, no matter how many people you have hired over your career. But if you take the time to really think through who the rep will be selling to, how your customers buy, the challenges the sales rep will face and the steps they will need to execute to complete a sale, the attributes you seek in a sales rep will begin to crystallize. Keep in mind that over time you may come to discover that some of your attributes carry more weight than other attributes as it relates to the performance and success of sales people. You should be testing characteristics over time. For instance, you may discover that attribute “B” is not as important as you once thought in which case you may decide to replace that attribute with a new one. So it may require some testing and refinement before you arrive at your final “ideal sales representative profile.” But once you do, identifying, screening and developing those sales people will become much easier. More importantly, you will feel more confident in your ability to make the right hiring decisions.
For additional information you may want to download our white paper Five Common Attributes of Rainmakers and How to Hire Them.
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.