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5 Keys to Hiring an Elite Sales Team

interviewing

They say that making a wrong choice in hiring can cost a company anywhere from 25 to 40 times the employee’s base annual salary (AIMM Consulting). In sales, we all know that a bad hire is probably on the higher end of that range. If you bring the wrong person on board today, they have the ability to tank sales relationships that have taken years to cultivate.
A bad hire in this industry really can break a company’s reputation and long-term ability to succeed.

That’s why hiring is such a vital aspect of our current sales climate. It’s also why companies should pay attention to data that reports most managers only view about 25 percent of their staff as being made up of high performers (Smart).

It’s why you should care about improving your hiring techniques to better those odds within your company. But first, you have to avoid the most common mistakes sales managers make in both interviewing and hiring. Then, you need a firm grasp of what to do instead.

1. Putting it All on the Table:

For those of you who have been in sales for a while now, you know that no good ever comes from playing all your cards at once. So why is it that so many hiring managers feel the need to do just that in hiring? They outline every aspect of the job to candidates, often before interviews even begin. Job descriptions are posted with pages of documentation, candidates are asked if they have any questions at the start (instead of end) of the interview, and a model is essentially built right out the gate for your applicants to study from and mold their answers to during the interview phase.

Instead: Create job postings that share only the most pertinent information. Then, craft interview questions that will truly test an applicant’s ability to excel (or fail) within the desired role—without giving them the cheat sheet up front to study from.

2. Ignoring the Need for Qualification:

Let’s be honest, people in sales tend to be a fairly optimistic bunch. They also have a higher than average level of confidence in their ability to read others. As such, they tend to trust their guts when it comes to interviewing—hiring based on who they like, rather than who may be most qualified for the job. The problem? Just as Max Cates (a seasoned sales manager and author of the book Seven Steps to Success for Sales Managers) found, “Their job is to sell you on them.” The problem with that? Selling you on them in a single, hour-long interview is kind of their bread and butter. But those interview skills don’t always translate into actual sales ability when you get out of the interview room. Cates realized years down the line that he had accumulated a lot of mediocre reps.

Instead: Rely on your gut and qualifications. Yes, your people reading skills are valid. But they aren’t everything. Today, Cates recommends asking for sales reports, tax forms, and any documentation that gives a black and white picture of the rep’s results over time. He believes that hiring is a scientific process based on facts, careful observation, and analysis. And you should too.

3. Forgetting About Culture:

We all know that not all sales jobs are created equal. Someone who excelled in office product sales may not be able to transition those skills into the sale of financial services, for instance. And applicants who thrived under one model of leadership may not be as successful under another. Cultural fit within an organization is important, and failing to take that into consideration can lead to hires who may be great on paper, but who will never be great within your organization.

Instead: Have a few interview questions that relate directly to corporate culture and the circumstances under which your applicants work best. Ask about previous leadership styles they thrived under, and those they struggled more with, and inquire about the cultures they encountered in their previous jobs.

4. Failing to Use the Tools at Their Disposal:

Interviewing and hiring can sometimes seem like a really random thing, mostly because applicants always have varied backgrounds and a wide variety of strengths and weaknesses to bring to the table. But hiring managers often make the mistake of simply accepting that, rather than utilizing the tools available to them to ensure the best person for the job is being brought onboard.

Instead: Embrace the SPQ*Gold assessment tool, which measures for the 12 types of Sales Call Reluctance, assesses for sales motivation, and quantifies goal level, focus, and a candidate’s comfort level with specific production targets and performance requirements. With a tool like this at your disposal, why wouldn’t you be gathering as much information as possible about your potential hires in order to bring on the best of the best?

5. Never Measuring For Ability to Close the Deal:

Michael D. Goodman, president of Revenue Kinetics, LLC., likes to talk about the evolution of a sales call. “A sales call has a specific structure and intent,” he explains. “Well designed, it moves whatever level of person you are speaking with through the discovery of what is important to them and what it costs them to not have it. It should leave the sales person far more informed on qualifications to close the sale, and the buyer in far greater recognition of how important the sale is.” The problem? Far too few hiring managers actually test their applicants on this ability, which means hiring sales reps who often have no idea how to effectively facilitate sales. “Not discovering the sales candidates’ capability to move through the sales process can be fatal to both the candidate and the sales manager in their career.” Goodman explains. “Ultimately the sales person will have a bloated pipeline with deals that never close and no understanding as to why.”

Instead: Actually test for this ability. Hold a mock sales call during the interview, giving the candidate a basic script and then expecting them to transition you through the steps. If they can’t do it now, they certainly won’t be able to out in the field. FYI: the SPQ*Gold assessment tool can also help you to accomplish this, and will tell you if they are too nice to close the deal!

As a sales manager, hiring is perhaps the most important aspect of your job—if you don’t build a solid team of capable sales people around you, no amount of incentives or motivation will push that team forward. So take the time to appropriately vet your candidates, and make hiring decisions you can be proud of as the years go by.
References
Andersen, Erika. “ The Most Important Reason People Fail in a New Job.”(25 Apr. 2012). Forbes. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2012/04/25/the-most-important-reason-people-fail-in-a-new-job/#a930743a2ec8
Cates, Max. Seven Steps to Success for Sales Managers: A Strategic Guide to Creating a Winning Sales Team Through Collaboration. Pearson FT, 2015. Print.
Smart, Bradford D. “Avoid Costly Mis-Hires!” (n.d.); Topgrading. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. Retrieved from http://www.global-performance-coaching.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Avoid-Costly-Mis-Hires-by-Bradford-Smart.pdf
“Take Measure—A Financial Case for Employment Testing” (2009). AIMM Consulting. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. Retrieved from http://www.aimmconsult.com/AFinancialCaseforAssessment.pdf

Quantification and Verification is More Important Than Intuition

trust but verify phraseToday I interviewed a seasoned sales manager who said that he rarely hired a bad rep. However, it took him a few years to realize that he was accumulating a lot of mediocre reps.  He realized that he was hiring by intuition.  If he liked the rep and felt that they would be a good fit, he’d hire them.  He realized that salespeople are genius at becoming what you want for that hour of the interview.  “Their job is to sell you on them.”  He found that quantification and verification were more important than intuition about an applicant.  He asks for sales reports, tax forms, and any documentation that gives black and white look at a rep’s results over time.  He believes that hiring is a scientific process based on facts, careful observation and analysis.

Along with requiring tangible proof of past performance, using the SPQ*Gold assessment will give you triple verification of what they will do when it comes prospecting for new business.

email connie@exceptionalsales.com or (direct) 602-997-1101  or (cell)  602-380-5431

What is the single best predictor of Sales Success?

yes I will prospect

 

According to George Dudley and Shannon Goodson, authors of the Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance, prospecting is the single best predictor of Sales Success.

Sales models are changing and companies are spending big marketing bucks and generating the warm leads for their salespeople.  That is terrific for them!

However, there are still large companies, banks, mid-market companies and small businesses, that expect their salespeople to be fully functioning and to generate their own leads.

How do you know your sales candidate can and will prospect?

Highly recommend you require proof of past performance by requesting a copy of W-2 from the last couple of years.  Yes, this is legal!

Also, invest in the SPQ Gold that will tell you whether your candidates have the motivation, goal level and the emotional capacity to prospect!

Call Connie Kadansky at 602-997-1101 or email connie@exceptionalsales.com today to assess your sales candidates.

 

Who is your next sales producer?

whotohire

Gallup and Harvard Business Review assert that most hiring companies have a tendency to grossly underestimate the negative consequences of a bad sales hire. Some of the costs include, but are not limited to:

Direct Costs

Lost Revenue (lost and delayed business)

Extra training and management required

Costs of turnover (firing and replacement – from both time and direct hiring costs)

Long-term impact on market share and brand: lost customers and brand loyalty

Impact on morale, leading to lower overall performance of other team members and higher turnover

Ultimately the loss of your best salespeople

Interviewing tip: Ask your sales candidate to describe their first selling experience! Watch whether their eyes sparkle; how animated the become; how engrossed they get into their story or the inner groan that makes them slump a bit. Please let me know what you experience with this question!

 

When you hire a salesperson, you are renting their behavior

now renting

Dave, a good friend of mine who has been a sales manager for many years, said that when he hires a salesperson he is “renting their behavior.”

How curious are you as to whether the sales candidate that you are considering has the behaviors that you are willing to rent?  The SPQ*Gold will highlight the behaviors that are going to serve your organization well and also shine a light on behaviors that may be a cause for concern.

How serious are you about thoroughly inspecting and investigating before you sign your offer?  Please call Connie Kadansky, 602-997-1101 to find out how easy and stream lined her process is to assess you sales candidates prior to hiring them.

How the SPQ helps you avoid the “honeymoon” blinders with new hires!

honeymoon

How often do newlyweds start noticing a habit about their cherished spouse on the honeymoon and they choose to turn a blind eye?

Guess what?  Employers do the same!  It takes significant time and energy to hire new salespeople.  Once hired, employers are on their best behavior.  The new hire is on their best behavior.  They are both excited about the possibilities.  However, in the first couple of weeks, employers can start noticing habits and/or behaviors that are NOT what they want to see.  They turn a blind eye and hope for the best.

Very rarely do salespeople have completely developed skill sets!  Most employers know that their new-hire is a work in progress who requires training, development and coaching.

The SPQ will not only assist in the interviewing, pre-hire stage; it will clearly define  areas for skill development so that employers are not blindsided after months have gone by, a lot of internal questioning and wasted opportunities.

Please feel free to call Connie Kadansky about how to use the SPQ for coaching and development.  602-997-1101

 

 

“Will the SPQ tell me if my candidate wants to make money?”

make money

 

That was a question asked by a real estate broker who wants to hire agents who have the fire in the belly to make money.

Yes, the goal level measurement will tell you whether they are emotionally engaged in their personal and professional goals.  The higher the goal level the more fire in the belly.

Please call Connie Kadansky at 602-997-1101 if you do not care about Sales Call Reluctance and only want an assessment that will tell you if your candidate has needs and values that are around money.

 

 

Sure-Fire Tips for Spotting Sales Call Reluctance

telephone from istock for opt in report

Here are some insider tips you can use right now to Spot Sales Call Reluctance:

  • Don’t be fooled by the billboard effect.
  • Candidates who invest too much energy into looking good don’t have a lot left over for prospecting, which they often find humiliating and demeaning. They may have Hyper-Pro Call Reluctance.
  • Avoid virtual success.
    Is your energetic new prospective seller “empowered”? “Grounded”? “Enabled”? Do they arch their eyebrows and boast of being “values-driven”? Of having “integrity”? If so, stop, squint, and look closer. Overuse of semi-psychological trash words could point to someone who is preoccupied with the self-help seminar industry – always searching, never finding, no time left over to prospect. Visualizing new business is not the same as prospecting.
  • Demo for dollars.
  • Trainers, how your new salespeople see you manage your call reluctance is the best predictor of how they will manage theirs – for the rest of their sales career.
  • All light, no heat?
  • Listen for rigid, unrealistic optimism throughout the interview. Contrary to popular mythology, frozen optimism is not always characteristic of high self-esteem. When it comes to sales selection it can also indicate entrenched emotional denial which characterizes Role Rejection Call Reluctance.
  • High potential, higher cost?
  • Listen carefully when interviewing experienced salespeople. Count the number of times you hear complimentary statements and direct or indirect criticisms. Salespeople with career-lethal doses of Oppositional Reflex Call Reluctance criticize far more often than they compliment. Many never compliment at all. Ever. They also don’t produce. They do, however, waste endless hours arguing about why. (Early studies showed they also tend to look impressive on the surface, which is why they tend to be financed higher than other new salespeople.)

From “Street-Smart Selection,” by George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson, ©1996, Behavioral Sciences Research Press, Inc., Dallas, Texas. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduced with permission.

Call Reluctance® is a registered trademark of Behavioral Sciences Research Press, Inc

“You saved me from another bad hire.”

Recently an seasoned owner of an executive recruiting firm interviewed a candidate who seemed to pretty impressive.  He invested in the SPQ*Gold assessment and the candidate’s impression management score was high (meaning heads up to embellishment and exaggeration.)  Even though some salespeople may score high in this area, they can actually prove that in the past they have been above average producers.  I encouraged this owner to request the candidate provide copies of W-2’s for the past two years in order to move forward.

Guess what?  He never heard from the candidate again.

The owner called me and said, “The SPQ*Gold test did it again.  It saved me from a bad hire.”

Very few assessments have measurements for response consistency, hedging and impression management.  That is another reason to invest in the Sales Call Reluctance assessment.

exaggeration
How do you know if your candidate is exaggerating?

Engaged or not engaged?

sad person

In addition to assessing for Sales Call Reluctance, the SPQ*Gold assessment will also tell you whether the candidate you are interviewing is truly engaged and emotionally connected to their goals.

Someone can be good at what they do. However, if they are not emotionally connected to the “why” behind what they are doing. . . you may be hiring someone who takes a significant amount of management time to monitor and motivate.

Please call Connie Kadansky, 602-997-1101, to discuss the streamlined process to assess candidates prior to hiring them!  Connie@Exceptionalsales.com