Working as a sales manager can be tough. Why make it more challenging than it has to be? And without the proper guidance and support, it can be especially difficult to find the right people for your organization. In today’s episode of The Sales Evangelist, we’re joined by Frank Cespedes, senior lecturer at Harvard business school, to learn his strategy for finding and retaining top-level salespeople.
There are inherent challenges to hiring within sales.
- Not enough people in and outside the sales function that there are challenges in hiring sales that don’t exist elsewhere.
- People major in engineering, accounting, and finance. There are less than 200 sales courses in the United States universities, let alone majors and programs.
- As a result, most learning in sales is whatever the company does. Companies on average spent 20% more per capita than they do training other positions.
- Most learning in sales is on-the-job learning that isn’t a challenge in other business areas. Because so much time is spent training, accelerating the productivity ramp up for new hires is crucial for hiring managers.
How can you make the hiring process more manageable?
- Minimize the biggest hiring mistake: relying solely on one or two unstructured interviews.
- Research consistently shows the correlation between the ratings people get in interviews and their subsequent on-the-job performance tend to vary by .1 to .4. The perfect candidate’s chances to perform to their expected standard is about as guaranteed as a coin flip.
- To solve the problem, supplement interviews by including people who aren’t sales, like customer support and product design.
- Experience is often an important hiring criterion. But in business, there is only experience selling your product. Experience in other organizations might not indicate or guarantee success at others.
- The most important thing when hiring is knowing what you’re looking for. Don’t think platitudes; think the most important tasks this new person will accomplish.
So what do you do? Start with the fundamentals.
- Performing fundamentals better than anyone else will lead to success – the who, why, and how of your customer informs you who you’re hiring for.
- What will the salesperson need to be good to be successful? Conversely, what might they need to be just good enough at?
- To determine these behaviors, consider implementing assessments or even internship positions to judge that behavior.
- The pandemic showed companies overpay for many tasks in the current sales model; you want to focus talent on the steps that most impact the sale rather than things like lead generation and demos.
Frank’s major piece of advice to someone managing the hiring process?
- Know what you’re looking for, start with the buying process, and don’t require platitudes of experience.
- Recognize that the hiring process doesn’t end with the hire. The sooner you get someone to ramp up their productivity within the organization, the better everyone is.
Read Frank’s new book Sales Management That Works: How to Sell in a World that Never Stops Changing. Want to get in touch with Frank? Visit him on his website or connect with him on LinkedIn.
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