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Sales Schmo: Recruiting Shortsightedness

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The Perfect Fit

Every company is looking for the perfect sales professional to solve their recruiting needs.  This is especially exaggerated when there have been repeated attempts at “hiring to solve the sales problem.”  The profile they are looking for generally is:

  1. Someone with industry experienceStructuring Your Business | Corlea Group
  2. Someone with a great reputation in their specific industry
  3. Someone with a “book” of business they can bring to quickly ramp up sales (by the way if this was the case, chances are #2 wouldn’t be true…think about it)
  4. Someone who can “self manage” so they won’t be a burden on leadership (another way of saying leadership really doesn’t want to have to lead)
  5. Someone who is just focused on results (get one of these and you’ll never have a clue what they are working on, what deals are real and in general they will bring in unprofitable business)
  6. And this person must be affordable and realize they should just be thankful to be given so much “upside” because the company and opportunity is that awesome.

Does this sound familiar? Wouldn’t we all love to have every Sales Professional fit this profile without all of the potential negative aspects I mentioned?

Short Term Thinking Drives Poor Decisions

March 14, 2013, I got a call from a senior Sales Professional.  She is tireless with an exceptional track record of success in her industry. Over this past two years she has overcome some personal challenges that took her away from her work and she had to turn over her book of business to someone else.  She now is seeking to get back into her area of expertise and is struggling to find a job.  Most recently she met with a company who asked if she had a book of business. If she could produce letters from her previous clients saying they would utilize her if she went to work for this company, they would hire her.  She is unable to do this because of the agreement she has in place with her previous employer. If she couldn’t produce those, they didn’t have a place for her.

How Do You Avoid Falling Into This Trap?

Have the confidence to look long term.

  1. Know your Why.  Why are you and your firm in business?  What are the values that drive the firm? If you successfully match those with your potential Sales Pro, it’s a great first step.
  2. Know your targets. If you know who are best at selling to from a company and buyer perspective, you can begin to define the skills you need in a Sales Pro.
  3. Get Help. If you are at your wits end – find a great recruiter! They do this every day and are pretty good at it! Require at least a 90 day guarantee and let them run. They will come much closer to the perfection you seek than you will!
  4. Create a functional evaluation process.  Listen to your gut feel but make that only one piece of the decision making.  Have multiple people who will be working with this person interview them and ask hard questions. Questions about their background and how they have handled specific situations throughout the sales process.  Have them give you examples – real ones from their experience.
  5. Role play. For your finalists, set up a realistic role play based on a challenging sales opportunity from your firm’s recent past.  Practice it, assign roles and put a realistic wild card into the situation (an unexpected attendee at the meeting that happens to be the C.O.O. etc…) to see how the Sales Pro handles it.  Know your desired outcomes and measure their performance against them.
  6. Check references. Please, don’t get lazy here.  Check references.
  7. Take calculated risks when hiring.  If you can’t find the perfect hire as described above and you have all of these things in place, you can take a “risk” on a person who fits the values, has the work ethic but may not have the experience or book of business. Some of the greatest successes I have seen are from these individuals because they are determined to prove you made a good decision and are driven to succeed.  And guess what? They will be less demanding, likely to work for a reasonable salary and commission structure, and will stay longer.
  8. Have a rock solid orientation process. Assign a mentor, immerse them in the business and don’t expect an ounce of production while they are in it. Have goals and milestones. Give them the opportunity to learn and plan.  This WILL get them productive more quickly with the right opportunities.
  9. Lead. Don’t get lazy.  Be intentional, get help, read books. Collaborate, be clear, support, drive, expect and reward results.  Support, drive, expect and reward professional acumen.  Support, drive, expect and reward ethical behavior.

Elevate how you recruit and bring on Sales Professionals in your organization and you will ignite the potential of your Sales team.

Be a Sales Pro.

Jack Kelly
Jack Kelly
Jack founded the Corlea Group in early 2009 with his first client coming on board in January of that year. Jack loves to coach. He coaches his clients and he helps coach his kid’s teams – it’s his passion and has been for over 25 years as a professional, father and volunteer. Why? Because he likes to help a team succeed.
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