I've written a lot about hiring sales people and sales managers on this blog. ESR knows that the epidemic of ineffective hiring is one of the reasons that sales performance has been so dismal over the years, even before the current economic situation.
The best sales methodology, training, tools, technology, coaching, and reinforcement doesn't have much impact if the people in the sales jobs don't have the foundation for selling effectively. It drains the enthusiasm and motivation of the team, wastes money, and forces sales management to spend time selling for the misfits rather than supporting and leading the rest of the team.
I'm in Ireland for two weeks facilitating a series of workshops with Irish CEOs and sales executives. Hiring is a big issue here. The record among Irish companies in this area hasn't been good.
Here's a refresher. ESR recommends:
- Build or buy (then customize) a profile-based, structured hiring process;
- Use psychometric and predictive tests as well as income verification and background checks;
- Train hiring teams on the skills required for effective employment of the process, including interviewing and reference checking;
- Don't by-pass the process under any circumstances;
- Understand that a key to successful hiring is objectivity. Hiring salespeople on gut feel, the old-fashioned way, doesn't work.
Consider adding a subjective measure or two where appropriate:
- Walk the sales candidate to their car and do a quick appraisal. Clean inside and outside, or junk strewn about? Untreated rust spots? What about those bumper stickers? How would your customers react?
- Invite the candidate and their significant other to a social evening along with you and yours. Dinner in a nice restaurant gets the job done, especially if part of their job is entertaining prospects and customers. Observe how they and their partner communicate for a hint of how they build and maintain relationships.
How you define A, B and C players differs from sales vp to sales vp. My take is you can't make C players into B's, because, by my definition, C's don't have the requisite traits. And you can't train someone to improve what's in their DNA.
If you follow that logic, you'll want to never hire a C player again.
Photo credit: © Dmitri MIkitenko - Fotolia.com
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