How To Find Good Salespeople
People who possess the right skills and personality for sales. And who are a good organizational fit.
Given the key importance of the sales role, sales managers must go beyond passive sales recruitment sources. Online career sites and employment agencies are a great start. But sales managers need to do even more to ensure they can find good salespeople as needed.
In this article we’ll look at some ways to find good salespeople who will consistently close deals, and grow your firm.
Look For Language Clues
Chorus.ai did an analysis of 500,000 salespeople and the language they use while selling. The results were rather striking!
They found that top sales performers speak differently than lower performers. That sounds obvious, but they were able to quantify specific differences. Here are the results:
(1) Top salespeople are up to TEN times more likely to use collaborative language. For example, using pronouns like “we”, “our” or “us” rather than ‘fractional’ words like “I” or “my”.
(2) Top salespeople use vocabulary that inspires confidence 5x more than low performers. For example they use expressions like “definitely”, “absolutely”, or “exactly right.”
So if you want to find good salespeople, watch their words. Are they using expressions that suggest they are confident and collaborative?
Promote From Within
Break down your sales functions into their core activities. For example, a Sales Development Rep (SDR) might focus on generating new opportunities. An Account Executive might specialize in giving client presentations. And so on.
The thing is, it’s really HARD to find good salespeople who are able to do the higher level roles well. But it’s relatively easy to train someone to do the entry roles effectively.
So hire for the entry roles and slowly train them up to the next level. This gives you plenty of time to evaluate their performance, and you can promote them when they are ready.
Do this, and you’ll always have a steady stream of well-trained, motivated sales reps who can step up at a moment’s notice.
Where Are Your Future Sales Reps Now?
Take a look at your current sales team. How did they come to work with you?
A quick ‘inventory’ of your top performers may reveal some interesting trends. For example, you might find that your best reps were introduced by existing salespeople.
The odds are, you’ll discover that (direct or indirect) personal contacts are the best way to meet great sales reps. Great Business Schools found that as much as 85% of new jobs are found via personal networks.
Next, see what characteristics your top closers possess. This will help you identify what you’re looking for in a salesperson. When you know what you’re looking for, you’ll have an easier time finding it.
Your future best salespeople are currently working somewhere else. And they may not be looking for an immediate change. But that’s ok!
When you know what sort of salespeople you are looking for you can make a list of potential candidates.
And then make an effort to maintain a strong relationship with them.
If they hear nothing but great things about working at your organization, you’ll be the first person they call when they’re ready to explore new opportunities.
Your Existing Salespeople Can Help
Your high performance salespeople have a great story to tell, and it’s in their self-interest to build their sale organization around people like themselves.
Of course, they are focused on doing their own job.
But take a moment in weekly or monthly meetings to probe them about the people with whom they have come in contact. Ask whether they my might be a fit for the organization.
It wouldn’t hurt to set up an appreciation program for your salespeople that might include some type of bonus for referring a quality candidate.
Better Salespeople Or Better Processes?
Spend some time with your best salespeople and find out what makes them truly great at what they do.
You may discover that your top performers aren’t magically ‘better’ than other sales staff.
They may simply be doing things a bit differently. And over time small differences compound into significant variance in performance.
Codify processes your top salespeople follow into your standard sales practices. It’s good practice, and you may see a boost in sales across your whole team.
As sales processes become more refined they become teachable.
This makes sales hiring MUCH easier. If a sales system can be executed by almost anyone, then almost anyone can do the job well.
In short, ask yourself whether you really need better salespeople. Explore the possibility that you need a more refined sales process.
Understand Your Sales Cycle
The length of your sales cycle will significantly impact the type of salesperson you want to hire.
It’s very possible to hire a superstar rainmaking salesperson who can crush quota in one company. But completely strike out in another.
The difference in performance is often because they shifted from a shorter to a longer sales cycle, or vice-versa.
Consider a salesperson who successfully sells perfume to shopping mall visitors. They’ve only got a minute (sometimes seconds!) to close the deal or the shopper will have left.
Will someone who excels at transactional sales do well selling a $3m software project with 8 stakeholders and an 18 month buying cycle?
Maybe, but probably not.
There just isn’t much overlap in the required skill sets. In fact, they may be incredibly successful at other sales tasks like B2B appointment setting.
So when you are looking to find good salespeople who will outperform; consider their past successes in the context of what is required from them now.
The Search For Good Salespeople Never Ends
For sales managers who truly want to build a productive sales team, the process of identifying ideal candidates needs to be continuous and systematic.
If you continue to hire people who happen to “pop up” because they are available, you will wind up with more “pop outs”.
So put in some consistent effort. And when it’s time to find a good salesperson, you’ll be ready.
Matthew Murray is the Managing Director of Sales Higher. He knows any company can THRIVE with enough qualified sales leads. So he’s spent the last decade helping companies meet engaged prospects and win new deals.