How to Hire Killer Sales Reps

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Hiring sales reps for your growing company can be challenging. From finding people with the right skills to make your sales performance grow to organizing your sales team into a cohesive force, recruiting can be a nightmare. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be! In this guide, we’ll give you the knowledge you need to evaluate prospective hires, organize your sales team, specialize your reps, and guide them to success. Let’s get started.

Skills Recruiters Overlook When Hiring

Although your new sales hires must have the requisite sales hard skills that all sales reps need (like product knowledge, industry awareness, and an understanding of how to use and apply sales tech technology), there are also several less noticeable attributes that make an outstanding salesperson. Here are three essential skills and abilities to look for when interviewing potential sales reps for your business:

Grit/Hustle

The world of sales is tough. If your sales reps are to create long-term, sustained growth for your brand, they must have the grit and hustle to overcome difficulty. From subduing objections to dealing with tough prospects and lost sales, mental toughness is a must-have skill for new sales hires. 

When interviewing a sales hire, ask them about times when they closed a difficult sale or overcame an obstacle during the sales process. Their answer will give you a great measure of their mindset and grit.  

We even encourage leaders to ask, “So what’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever overcome?”  We specifically don’t ask for business, we let them decide. We actually want them to respond with, “Do you mean personally or professionally?”  This is a small  indication of their active listening skills, ability to adapt in a sales conversation, and tell a compelling story. So yeah, their numbers matter, but this is what helped them get there. 

And for the record, if you’re hiring someone new to sales. Don’t hold it against them if they can’t tell a good story yet. That’s your job as a sales leader to help them grow that skill. 

Communication Skills

Sales are about more than finding clients and getting them to buy. Salespeople must have the communication skills to build trust. It’s our goal in sales to get our prospects and clients to “Fall In Trust” with us, not merely like us.  The experience a customer has is as important as the product or service they are purchasing. Have you ever bought something but you went to a different place because you had a bad buying experience? 

Reps will need to leverage this to overcome objections, negotiate deals, and interact with clients in a purposeful and tactful way. Communication skills come in many shapes and sizes – from being a great speaker to having excellent writing abilities, having sales reps who are masters at communication will make a difference in your bottom line.

Adaptability

In the modern sales landscape, business moves at a lightning-fast pace. These days, the internet has connected the world, and business deals can close in a matter of minutes. Deals that are six and seven-figures are closing without actually meeting someone face to face. And before the pandemic, they were being done over the phone, without the help of Zoom. 

With that being the case, sales conditions can change in the blink of an eye – and your sales reps must be able to adapt. The better your salespeople can adjust to dynamic sales conditions, the less likely they are to be thrown off their game by an unexpected change. Adaptability is the mark of a confident and capable sales rep.

Own Your Process – Everyone Sells Differently

You cannot control people, you can only influence them. You can however, control a process. 

With the world connected by the internet, sales are no longer just about calling prospects and closing sales. Many more possible channels of communication have opened where you can reach out to potential clients and get them interested in your product. As such, there are also many different types of salespeople, each with a unique style of closing deals.

For example, one type of salesperson you will encounter is the social seller. These are extroverted, energetic sales reps who love reaching out and building relationships with clients. These are powerful, charismatic communicators who thrive in fast-paced and unpredictable environments where their wit and adaptability can shine.

On the other hand, another type of salesperson you will find is the data analyst. Unlike the social seller, these salespeople prefer numbers and graphs to conversations. They take an empirical, objective approach to sales and use mathematics and statistics to target clients and close sales. For data analysts, chaos is the enemy – the more predictable their work, the more effective they are.

Depending on your personality and temperament, you might start subconsciously favoring a certain kind of salesperson. When this happens, it’s important to remember that all types of salespeople can be extremely effective if they are put into positions where they can thrive. After all, you wouldn’t make a social seller manage database spreadsheets all day, and you wouldn’t want to put a data analyst into a cold calling job. Creating an effective sales team is just as much about managing your talent as it is about hiring the right people! It’s about building a sales process that everyone can use, and still allow the sales team members to be their authentic selves.

Winning the Recruiting War

There are countless strategies you can employ for a sales recruitment campaign. But there is one overarching law that you must remember when executing any business strategy: Success and failure are always the leader’s fault

If you are in charge of recruiting for your sales department, you must take full ownership of the performance of your hiring campaign. Since success or failure depends on the superior, it makes sense that you should coach your sales leaders to do recruiting the right way. Here are two key principles to keep in mind when looking to build up your sales department.

Retention is Step One in Recruiting.

We all know its easier to upsell or cross sell a current customer. The same can be said for holding onto good talent. When someone good decides to leave and you go miserly on them, you are actually losing more money than the raise they were asking for in the first place. You lose momentum in current deals, you lose time associated with interviewing which means you cannot get other things done which affects your revenue. And then you are stalled waiting on ramping a new sales rep. So yeah, when they ask for an extra $5000-$10,000, don’t be stupid.

Always Be Interviewing

Even when you don’t have an open headcount, you should be conducting 2 interviews each week. Be honest about it with the candidate. But if you don’t have a bullpen of potential hires ready during the Great Resignation, you are starting even further behind. Besides, when you find that one rep, that one you’ve been looking for, its time to go to bat and make some important management decisions. It may be time to hug someone out the door. Which could mean finding the lowest performing rep for a new gig in your organization. Don’t waste the tribal knowledge. Additionally, every department needs help these days. Why not do everyone in the company a favor and see if something can be worked out.

Creating a Balanced Team

Having a sales department balanced in its skills and temperaments is crucial for your company’s success. Remember the different types of salespeople we mentioned earlier? You must find the right ratio of these sales reps to maximize your team’s efficacy. For example, if you only have social sellers, you’ll have a highly communicative sales department. But it will be chaotic and without direction. Conversely, if your sales team is full of data analysts, they’ll know exactly who to contact but there won’t be anyone on the team who can do the actual contacting!

Take a look at your current sales team’s skill distribution and performance. Talk to your salespeople and other sales leaders to figure out where your team needs improvement. If they’re having trouble finding the right clients to contact, you might want to bring a few more data analysts on board. On the other hand, if your team is contacting the right people but having trouble communicating, it may be time to hire some powerful, outgoing social sellers! Your sales department needs people who are digital, modern sales reps. But it also needs fighters who will push through challenges and close difficult situations.

Activate Your Sales Special Forces

With the internet connecting you to an increased selection of potential recruits for your sales team, you have the opportunity to diversify and specialize your sales department to a greater extent than ever before. While we’ve already covered the overarching sales archetypes like social sellers and data analysts, you can also sub-categorize these people into highly specialized sales reps. 

For example, imagine you just hired a social seller who’s a powerful communicator. While they may have great all-around communication skills, chances are that they specialize in a specific facet of their field. If your newly recruited social seller is an excellent writer, you can sub-specialize them to focus solely on written outreach and correspondence with clients! That way, not only are they focusing on their macro skill niche (social selling and communication), but they are also operating in their ideal environment (written communication). 

When you segment your salespeople into highly-specialized sales operators, you turn your sales department into sales special forces – a highly specialized, efficient, and effective sales machine.

Coaching Your Reps for Top Performance

Once you’ve hired the ideal salespeople for your team, you must coach them. Whether a recruit is brand new to the sales game or they’ve been in the industry for over a decade, they’ll still need to undergo some onboarding and training before they can start selling. Every company has a unique approach to sales, so taking the time to get your new hires up to speed is crucial. This is why the sales process we mentioned above is so critical. Here’s our ebook on 5 coaching tactics you can start using today.

Unfortunately, recruit training is not only challenging, but it can also be incredibly time-consuming. The longer it takes to onboard your people, the more potential revenue you’re losing by not having them closing sales. How can you get your recruits onboarded and trained as fast as possible, you ask? By making their training as realistic as possible. This includes drilling sales concepts, peer coaching, mock/role-playing calls with coworkers, and live call coaching. In essence, the sooner you can get your salespeople into their position, the sooner they’ll become independent in that job.

Diversity and Inclusion

Mostly white. Mostly male? Yes, that’s often what we see in the sales world. Sales is not a career most people choose as a career. As a friend of mine once said, its often a bit of a dumpster of folks who have tried other things, never “wanted to be a salesperson”, and in fact may have intentional bias to it. 

So look in different places. I’ve hired a ton of waiter-staff in sales, they are great. Teachers who want to make more money, they are the BEST. Working with local veteran organizations, community organizations supporting LGBTQ, and BIPOC. 

Here’s the secret part of the formula. No matter someone’s race, gender-identity, religion, all human beings will support those that give them a chance. They will work harder for you because nobody else gave them a shot or taught them things. In many cases you will help them elevate their life and lifestyle beyond their wildest dreams. And isn’t that what we all strive for ourselves?  When you step forward, hold the hands of two others behind you and help them get to their dreams. 

This is what makes sales an amazing profession.

Finally, Sales coaching never ends – things just get layered on. With every newly discovered best practice, strategy, or piece of sales tech, you will need to coach your salespeople on how to use it. Coach effectively by avoiding these 3 mistakes that kill your sales coaching potential.

Unfortunately, keeping your sales team updated with the newest emerging best practices is tedious. That’s why we created the 5 Week N.E.A.T. Selling™ Training & Reinforcement Program – to teach your salespeople the industry-leading sales strategies for prospecting, qualification, discovery, and negotiation. Check it out or book a time to chat with us here.

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