One of the hardest things I do is to try to convince sales managers that sales hiring needs to be an ongoing part of your work. You can’t wait to hire sales people until you need one. Instead you need to be constantly scanning the market for top performers.
Your sales department, if you are going to have top performers as opposed to mediocre salespeople, needs to have a constant program going to attract top performers to apply.
Most sales managers start the sales hiring process way too late. And, although it seems logical to wait until you need a salesperson (you don’t start looking to buy a car until you need one) it results in way too many mediocre sales hires.
Having thought about sales hiring for sixteen years now, here is my theory on why it doesn’t work to wait:
1. Too much pressure to “make the hire” and get on to the next thing. The odds of success go down dramatically when doing anything under pressure.
2. Top salespeople have a unique personality style. Unlike MD’s or Attorneys who have a degree to prove their qualifications, salespeople have a “sales personality” and a propensity for sales.
The problem is only 2 of every 30 people has the personality style of a top sales performer. But since no degree is required, if you really want a good sales hire, you need to sift more.
Too, since the majority of salespeople hired turn out to be average (or worse), don’t get all excited about “previous sales experience.” In most cases you are getting some other sales manager’s retread.
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