So your business is flourishing; the profits are flowing, and it’s time to expand and reach a wider client pool. As you dip your toes into the proverbial waters of a vast market (probably international), your team will need an exceptional salesperson.
Given that you already have a sales team, you might be familiar with rehearsed interview tactics. However, it can seem difficult to spot a diamond in the rough. Sales reps must be hardy professionals with various skills under their belt to engage prospects and convince them to purchase.
Did you know that at least 60% of customers say no four times before buying a product? Only a tough cookie can survive the tedious process amid cut-throat competition. To take your business to the next level, you need a solid hiring strategy for a skilled sales rep.
In this article, we will discuss five insider tips to help you find the best fit for your team.
Keep the Job Description Simple and Precise
Many companies make a seemingly small but costly mistake while preparing a salesperson’s job description – taking the “more is more” approach. They write pages and pages of details regarding all the work expected from the professional daily.
The easiest and fastest way to find the ideal candidate is to be as straightforward and concise as possible. Don’t let the meatier stuff (skillset, work experience, culture fit, etc.) get lost in a sea of text. The simple rule of thumb is to fit the entire description on a single page.
This can be a challenge as you’re called to say more in fewer words. It’s a great opportunity to be honest about the expectations for both parties (you and the salesperson). Give a vivid description of what a typical day could look like (along with nuances in terms of deadlines, quotas, etc.).
Resist the temptation to oversell the glamorous parts of the role. Initially, it may help you attract a lot of candidates but will only lead to disillusionment down the line. Furthermore, the description must include specific details. For instance – mentioning “you’ll be working as a part of a successful sales team” is generic and doesn’t offer much insight.
Something along the lines of “you’ll work in a team of 5 sales reps, using tools like so and so to deliver results” gives a better picture of the work, expectations, and the environment. Additionally, mention the negotiable salary, minimum experience criterion, etc., to weed out unsuitable applicants.
Expand Your Talent Pool through Professionals
When you’re hunting for a right-fit salesperson, there are a plethora of skills to look for. Some of the most important include emotional intelligence, active listening, effective communication, genuine optimism and confidence, and time management.
Appearances are often deceiving and can make it a grind to find the ideal candidate. The worst-case scenario would be hiring the wrong individual and having to begin the recruitment process from scratch. Remember, there is safety in many counselors, in this case, a reliable recruitment agency.
A good agency’s talent pool is large, often full of dormant job seekers too. Depending upon the role, the process (from start to finish) can take anywhere between two weeks and three months. Staffing agencies offer a range of services, like permanent recruitment, temporary staffing, contact-to-hire, etc., to accelerate hiring.
Furthermore, CulverCareers states that recruitment agencies specialize in overcoming hiring challenges through data analytics, candidate headhunting, industry networking, etc. They even keep a stock of backup profiles to compensate in case of last-minute dropouts.
You also get the advantage of the latest technologies, including Applicant Tracking System (ATS), CRM, etc., to customize the recruitment process. Besides helping you land the right fit, a streamlined process improves the brand image by offering a good candidate experience.
Keep the Interview Process Clear and Strategic
Still, wondering how to find a good salesperson? Once you have shortlisted the candidates, ensure there’s a structured interview process in place. Your company will have unique requirements or expectations from its sales rep.
Even then, the following three key stages must be kept in mind,
First impressions are indeed important, but formal conversations can sterilize the candidate’s personality. An informal, relaxed, and friendly chat helps you assess important things like the candidate’s emotional intelligence, listening skills, culture fit, etc.
The best way to get the conversation started is to have a set of icebreaker questions ready. It’s not about ticking all the technical boxes; a good sales rep is one whose personality fits the organization’s culture.
Once the informal chat is over, conduct a more formal interview to test the candidate’s sales knowledge and industry experience. In this meeting, keep all questions more specific and technical.
An effective salesperson should have concrete and detailed answers. For instance – they should be able to answer how they expect to handle a certain objection on a sales call. This is also a great opportunity to invite the candidate’s potential team members to the interviewing panel.
In the third and final stage, you must ask the candidate to prepare a comprehensive sales presentation for key stakeholders. This stage provides you with insight into how the candidate may perform under pressure.
As they deliver the presentation, keep an eye on their ability to connect emotionally, body language, product knowledge, and more. This will tell you how engaging or persuasive the candidate can be, two essential qualities in a sales rep.
Prepare a Few Purposeful Questions
An interview with the candidate is your best chance at extracting all the information you need to gauge their suitability. It is best if the interview is conducted in person, but video-conferencing also works when you have prepared the right questions.
The questions you ask must align well with the key skills that you’re looking for. Along those lines, listed below are a few purposeful questions based on the role,
- Adaptability – Did your previous manager change the sales strategy or tool suddenly? If yes, how did you respond?
- Responsibility – Share a huge mistake you committed in the past. What was the outcome, and how did you deal with it?
- Time Management – How do you gauge if a lead has fallen cold and must not be pursued any more?
- High Motivation – Who was the most difficult prospect you’ve dealt with? Were you able to change their no to a yes? If yes, then how?
- Being Goal-oriented – How do you plan on meeting your sales quotas? What is your sales target for the first three months in this role?
- Teachability – What are some areas you still need to work on to become a better rep? What is one impactful lesson you learned last year that has helped your sales practices?
- Company Knowledge – Why do you think you would make a good fit for a role in this company?
- Knowledge of Tools – Are you familiar with the ‘X’ tool we currently use in our sales process? If yes, how would you perform so-and-so tasks on the platform?
Pay Attention to Nuances That Matter
Even as you conduct interviews and gauge the candidate’s answers, monitor the entire process as a whole. There will be instances that tell you a lot about the candidate’s enthusiasm, professionalism, etc.
For instance – some candidates have done prior research on your company and they indirectly mention it in their answers. In other cases, you may find that the candidate is asking thoughtful questions to understand your company’s sales process better. It could be as simple as asking about the current short and long-term sales KPIs.
A sharp and dedicated salesperson asks meaningful and specific questions that extend beyond surface-level facts. Moreover, you should pay special attention to candidates that reach out before the interview. They may do so to know about specific topics or materials to prepare, the dress code, and so on.
While this may appear pushy, it is often a sign of an applicant’s willingness to put in extensive effort for the role. Little nuances can help you bag not only a knowledgeable sales rep for your team but also the right culture fit.
Studies have found that 40% of sales reps consider prospecting to be the most challenging aspect of the sales process. This stage depends primarily on one essential skill – effective communication.
Keep such stats in mind before conducting the interview. For example – ask questions that help you evaluate a candidate’s understanding of the product through their articulation during a presentation.
Finally, don’t be biased when it comes to a candidate’s work experience. Sometimes, those with moderate work experience can outperform those with years and years of industry footing. It generally boils down to the candidate’s curiosity, learning interest, and ability to keep abreast with market changes.