Get the right salespeople and they will get the right results.
Hiring the best people possible is the most important driver of profitable sales success. After all, you need to continuously assess prospective and serving salespeople to determine their suitability for the job.
Some companies regard salespeople as merely an overhead or cost. It’s true to say that salespeople are expensive, but the most successful companies are sales driven.
If you’re looking for young people or people new to sales, contrary to popular belief, it’s best to go for the entrepreneurial type. Salespeople need many of the traits of entrepreneurs. Then, train them from scratch. Good communication skills and a good understanding of business and financial issues are far more important attributes than anything else.
However, if you’re looking for experienced salespeople who can make an early impact, LinkedIn is one of the best sources. This is because the top performers are always busy and not necessarily looking for a job. You may have to offer more to persuade them to move, but it should be worth it.
The characteristics of the best salespeople are –
- The ability to absorb and apply coaching to their role (effective coaching is the biggest driver of sales productivity).
- A good knowledge of how business works in general.
- The ability to interpret Profit & Loss Accounts and Balance Sheets.
- Great questioning and listening skills (the ability to show interest in others and understand their goals and issues).
- The ability to learn complex concepts quickly and communicate them in an easy to understand manner (strong verbal and writing skills are necessary).
- A very strong work ethic.
- A first class telephone manner.
- Very confident face-to-face with senior prospects.
It’s no coincidence that the need for salespeople to absorb and apply coaching is at the top of the above list. Sales managers must get out with salespeople for whole days at a time. This gives managers a chance to see their salespeople in action. Coaching can then take place after a call. Sales managers should always ask the salesperson how they think the call went and how it could have gone better.
Getting out of the office helps managers see what’s taking place in the market. Face-to-face meetings with key prospects and customers can be a reality check for managers and executives. When with salespeople, managers should turn off their mobiles or tablets – emails and telephone calls can wait until the end of the day. After all, managers aren’t heart surgeons or cabinet ministers, 24/7 communication isn’t always a good thing.
When in a meeting with a prospect, managers shouldn’t try to butt in and do the salesperson’s job for them. In fact, the more a salesperson struggles, the more they will be open to being coached after the meeting. If the salesperson does well, they should be given all the credit for doing so.
Initially it’s a good idea to interview candidates over the telephone. Not only does this test their telephone communication skills, but it also saves both parties time and money.
When interviewing salespeople face-to-face, treat the interview as if it were a sales meeting. Look for people who ask probing questions and who can take control of the interview. If they can do this, there’s a good chance they’ll also be able to control a sales meeting. Even better if they can summarize the meeting and propose next steps. If the individual effectively closes the interview, they’re probably good at closing sales meetings too.
Have you found the right salespeople?