Finding the right person in the first place
Just think how much time and money you can save by choosing the right sales person for your sales force. If you take the time to do it right, if you develop and implement a hiring process that fully vets the candidate before you hire her, it will pay off exponentially. Hiring too fast is almost always disastrous. One of the poorer characteristics of being a sales person is shooting from the hip. We all believe in our gut instinct so much that the faster we can come to a decision, the better we feel about ourselves. This is not a good… actually, it is a pretty bad thing because we often make the wrong decision when it comes to choosing sales people. Sales people are good at selling themselves because, well because they are sales people. Combine that with our pride in making fast decisions and it’s no wonder that we consider finding and keeping the right sales people is one of our biggest challenges as sales managers.
There are many aspects to proper vetting and hiring of the right sales people and one of these is identifying and evaluating the right characteristics of a Peak Performer. From the soon to be published book called The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness: 10 Essential Strategies for Leading your team to the Top by Kevin Davis, here are some key skills of Peak Performers that you should look for in your Peak Performing sales person:
- Good Communicator
- Negotiates well
- Great selling skills
- Develops killer proposals
- Great work ethic
- Positive attitude
- Team player
- Problem solver
- Notice the ones that are about attitude. These are the most important ones.
As Davis mentions, these are skills and as important as they are for a sales person to have even more important than these skills are characteristics the exemplify “Wills” or positive attitude and these are:
- Prospects consistently
- Enthusiasm for resolving customer problems/complaints
- String work ethic (hardworking and diligent)
- Strong initiative (can work efficiently without being told what to do)
- Competitive drive
- A positive influence on co-workers
- Learns quick and is coachable
- Tenacious (keeps focused until an outcome is achieved)
- Constantly looks for opportunities to learn and improve
And finally, again from the book, are three observable behaviors that you as the person hiring the candidate should be looking for in that candidate:
Competitive: Hates to lose. Constantly working on getting better
Good work ethic: High activity level. Determined to complete tasks. Hates to miss quotes
Problem solver: Accepts responsibility for solving problems. Can define the problem’s causes and solutions. Understands that their solutions can’t create more problems for co-workers.
Creating a success profile using these characteristics and then applying it to the hiring process will go a long way to assuring your selection of the best candidate for the job. But it is not the only thing you should be doing. There should be team synergy, the candidate must fit in well with the rest of the team. She has to comply with the company’s culture and most importantly, the candidate must be ready and willing to sell what the company produces. This last comment might seem obvious but it is not.
If you are a quick-turn prototype fabricator specializing in producing high-mix low-volume orders for your customers, then be careful if your sales candidate comes from a high-volume production background. Be especially on the lookout for the candidate who keeps talking about how much better it is to sell what he was selling before than what your company sells.
Make it clear to that candidate that you sell what you sell, that’s your product, your sweet spot and you are not going to change. Let the candidate know that he must make a decision, and then a commitment to sell your products when he comes on board. And, if he persists in talking about the benefits of what he sold at his former company then take the hint and invite him to return to his former company.
You, as a sales manager do not need to waste you time convincing your sales people to be selling what you produce.
Hiring the right sales people is like everything else you do in life. It starts with knowing exactly what you want and then going out and getting it. During the hiring process is the right time to make sure that the person in front of you is the right person, that she has all the characteristics and skill that you want in a member of your sales team. Vet that person carefully to make absolutely certain she is the right person for your team. And once you are convinced that she is, hire her. It’s only common sense.