Sales has changed over the last 5 years, becoming more complex and more strategic. Buyers are buying very differently, using other ways to gather the information they need to make a decision, many times leaving the salesperson completely out of the equation. To succeed, companies need to revisit their profile of what a successful salesperson in their sales environment, selling their type of products and meeting their buyers’ needs looks like. Then they need to hire or train new skills that fit that new profile.
The cost of hiring the wrong person for your sales organization can have some pretty daunting effects. They can cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in the cost of hiring and training, lost sales, damage to the company brand, demoralizing the sales team and draining the resources within an organization. For some companies, the hiring process takes a bit of time. If what you are looking for is not what you really need, you could find yourself in an endless cycle of replacing sales people.
There could be many reasons why a new person is slow out of the gate. If your new sales person is slow to get started, many times that signals a poor fit. They could have the right skills but are totally unwilling to do what it takes, which leads to frustration all around. If your sales cycle is a long one, it could take a long time to figure out the misfit. All of this costs money and can be extremely frustrating.
With all the changes that have happened in the last five years, it has become more difficult to get in to see a new prospect unless you have the right connections to that person. For a new sales person, those connections may not exist. Evaluating the new buyer journey will help to evaluate how sales people need to get to their prospective buyers. With the arrival of virtual selling using technology, there is a whole new set of technology skills that weren’t of any real importance until COVID. Companies that don’t take the time to learn how best to get to their potential buyers are much like the rodent on the hamster wheel; lots of activity without any forward progress toward achieving the goal.
Having skills that can elevate a sales person to the trusted advisor level are a key to being able to increase sales within existing accounts. They also help sales people provide more comprehensive solutions that not only meet the need but take it to a broader, more strategic level of solution. Let’s face it, as much as a buyer thinks they can get all the information they need online to make a buying decision, there isn’t any way possible that they can know how the solutions available could fill a broader need. Their focus on one “problem” and not allowing sales people to be involved earlier in the process really does them a disservice. A sales person who is lacking the skills to open up the discussion to explore other ways of meeting the needs of the client misses many opportunities to differentiate, provide more strategic solutions and improve their sales.
71% of millennials believe that meaningful work is an essential factor in defining career success. Unfortunately, many millennials believe that being in sales is not a worthy job to have. While many companies will hire straight out of college, recent graduates are no longer looking at sales as an option at the rate they were before. While sales as a profession sometimes gets a bad rap, professional sales people need to be persistent, tenacious, strategic, creative and have a thick skin. These qualities are not that easy to find. If people who could do very well in sales don’t even pursue a sales position, the pool of candidates for sales positions shrinks.
In a survey conducted by Steve W. Martin at USC, 46% of the study participants reported a shift from a field sales model to an inside sales model. 21% reversed the switch. Either way, the sales environment changed in a way that could cause people to leave their organization. The type of person who can fill these roles is different. Just saying to sales people, “this is how are going to do it now” doesn’t mean that it will automatically work.
Another strategy that many companies are using is hiring an inexperienced “junior” sales person and coaching them into great sales people. They are banking on the potential of a person and their ability to build them into great sales people. This strategy has pros and cons and has a ripple effect in that the profile of success changes, hiring protocols change and, some training elements change. Time spent managing and coaching becomes more important and will cost more in the beginning.
The old saying “if you don’t know where you’re going, any place will do” can apply to hiring the right sales person. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can fall into the trap of hiring the best of the pool, even if none of the candidates really fit the profile of someone who would be successful selling your products or services. Hiring the wrong person leads to consequences like spending time and money on hiring and training with no return on that investment, slowing down your team’s progress toward meeting the sales goals of the organization, loss of goodwill with potential and existing buyers, damage to your brand in the marketplace, among others.
A Profile of the Successful Sales Person is a description of a sales person who does the right things to produce the right sales for your company.
Minimum and ideal levels of knowledge and experience required
Skills, both interpersonal and technical, necessary
Attributes such as problem solving, relationship building, critical thinking, confidence and oral communication
Willingness, motivation, competitiveness and drive
Fit, both with your organization’s culture and values and in the way they will need to work (i.e. autonomous vs. highly structured, long sales cycle vs. short sales cycle, inside or field sales)
Finding that person who is able to sell in your sales environment can make or break your success. Identifying the profile of someone who would be successful at your company and then hiring (or promoting) to that profile helps to prevent turnover, improve start up times and increase sales revenue. The cost of a bad hire includes the hiring costs, training costs, managers’ time, customer goodwill, brand damage in the market place. Starting over with new sales people stymies growth of the organization and takes away from time that can be spent on activities that produce results.
While it is important when creating the profile to identify the type of sale it is and what skills and attributes are necessary to be successful, it also entails more than just looking at skills.
When creating the profile, we look at three different areas:
• Can they do it? Skills, knowledge and experience
• Will they do it? Willingness and motivation to do what it takes to be successful
• Will they fit? Values and cultural fit with your company and its way of doing business as well as a fit for the type of sales that your company does
Since 1984, SEG has worked with organizations to identify what they are looking for when hiring sales people and helped them to simplify their hiring process. We can help in these areas:
What is one of the keys to a business' success? Hiring right – making sure a new employee is a good fit, and aligns with a firm's core values.
Know your product, sales cycle, go to market strategy and goals and you will be better suited for hiring your next high-performing salesperson.
A Realistic Job Preview offers detailed information to ensure the candidate has a realistic picture of the position, the skills required, and the overall organizational culture.