(SALES) The Secret To Finding Great Salespeople
Any good sales manager understands the importance of having a strong sales department. But actually making that happen — now, that’s hard to do!
With increasing frequency, clients are coming to me to discuss the large disconnect between wanting a strong sales force and building one. Digging into this dilemma, I have learned that there are two key areas of focus we need to understand in order to close this gap.
First, you must find and select the right salespeople.
Then you must effectively develop and keep them.
If you are interested in building a great sales department, you need to do more than just hire well. You must grow and develop your people, too. Here’s how to do it:
Find And Select The Best
The best managers will tell you they rely on these ways to increase their effectiveness as they work to find and select the right people to grow a top sales department.
1. Remember that recruitment happens all the time, not just when you have a position open. Recruitment is a 52-week-a-year commitment.
2. Separate the “find” step from the “select” step. When building your team, it will be key to remember that recruitment needs to stand separate from selection. Think about it like this: A college football program recruits a lot of high school athletes every year, but it does not offer scholarships to every one of them. These teams do an outstanding job of separating recruitment from selection, and you should follow that model.
3. Build a specific recruitment plan, and commit to following it. Consider these questions when you construct your plan:
• How many interviews will you do each month?
• Where you will look to find people?
• What process will you use to interview each person?
• Who (other than yourself) will play a role in the interview process?
• How will you set up your files to remember all of your recruits? (These files are your “talent bank.”)
4. Commit to a strong selection practice, and always select from your talent bank.
Here are a few things to remember when making a selection for your next hire.
• Not all sales jobs are alike — in fact, they are often very different! So give careful thought to which talents, skills, and experiences you consider necessary for each individual selection you make.
• Salespeople are not all alike, either. No two, including top performers, will be the same, so you need to evaluate each person individually to determine whether they will be the best fit for what you need.
• You must avoid getting fooled by “glare” that can blind you from seeing the real person. This can easily happen if your sales candidate is from your
hometown, a t t e n d e d your university, plays the same sport, or pushes any other “hot button” of yours. The qualities that make you “fall in love” with a candidate often also cause you to lose your objectivity regarding their talent and job fit.
As I mentioned before, though, it is not enough to just find and select the best sellers. If you hire them, you need to commit to grow and develop them as well. That’s how top sales teams are built.
Develop And Keep Them
It only makes sense that if you are going to spend time getting the selection process just right, you would want to invest in those people you eventually hire. Always remember that people join an organization, but they leave their manager.
In order to increase retention of your top salespeople, the key is consistency. Even with your veterans.
Take the time to understand their unique talents, abilities, and coaching needs, then build an individualized growth plan for each person on your sales team. This will cost you both time and energy, but building these customized plans will allow you to grow each individual, which leads to increased retention and profitability.
And it is far less work than having to hire yet another new seller because of high turnover.
Matt Sunshine is EVP of the Center for Sales Strategy.
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