High Potential Sales People
Pay NOTHING until you meet interested decision makers
The key to success in any sales organization is having the ability to consistently identify, recruit and hire sales people who possess the right personality for sales and who are a good organizational fit. Because of this, sales managers must go beyond passive sales recruitment sources, such as online career sites, newspaper ads, employment agencies, and even the firm’s human resources department, to identify potentially high performance sales candidates.
A quick look within your own sales team may reveal that sales people hired as a result of personal contacts and referrals from existing sales reps, customers, and centers of influence not only outperform other hires, their retention level is also much higher. Sales managers who focus on targeted recruiting of sales people with the specific qualities they desire can achieve higher production levels more quickly, and, more importantly, they become a “magnet” for additional high potential sales people.
Because the individuals you come across through active sales recruitment sources may not presently be looking for a change, the sales recruitment cycle can be much longer, often taking months, sometimes years, so the search for sales staff with a personality for sales must be a continuous and systematic process, much like prospecting for buyers in sales. Sales managers who establish a system for tapping their active sources will be able to generate an endless stream of high quality recruits and will expend far less time, energy and effort in hiring, training and retaining productive sales people. At a minimum, your sales recruitment strategy should include the following sources:
Of all the recruiting sources your personal observation will uncover the greatest number of potential candidates. In sales, we come across a great number of people every day, and with networking opportunities and contacts with the business community, the pool of prospects is unlimited. The key is to stay in circulation and learn where in your community you are most likely to find the type of people who will fit well with your organizational culture. Your ability to instinctively assess those you meet for cultural fit will enable you to engage them quickly in conversations that will lead to a career discussion. It is important not to immediately try to sell your prospect as chances are they may not be ready for a career change right at the moment; and you have not had the opportunity to test whether they have the requisite personality for sales. Rather you want to cultivate a relationship so that, when they do become disturbed about their present position, you will be front of mind. It could take months or sometimes years to attract ideal candidates, but, with a systematic effort, you should be able to fill your funnel and keep the process moving forward.
Existing Sales People
Next to you, the people who know more about the type of person you’re looking for are your best sales people. Your high performance sales people have a great story to tell, and, it is in their self-interest to build their sale organization around people like themselves. Of course, they are focused on finding prospective buyers so they are not likely to be very proactive about identifying candidates for you. Your opportunity comes in your weekly or monthly meetings with your sales team to probe them about the people with whom they have come in contact and ask them whether they my might be a fit for the organization. It wouldn’t hurt to set up an appreciation program for your sales people that might include a dinner or some other type of bonus for referring a quality candidate.
Centers of Influence
Your community is full of business and civic leaders who pride themselves on their positions of prestige and influence and who see it as their role to promote individuals they know in the business community. You know many of them – your attorney, your CPA, the head of your Chamber, business owners, and the leaders of local civic organizations. Those that also take an interest in you will be willing to help you develop a successful organization because it benefits everyone. Your sales recruitment strategy, therefore, should include a deliberate process for cultivating your relationships with potential nominators. Once you describe the profile of the person you are looking for, you should go back to your nominators regularly to see who they might have come across who fits that profile.
The need for high performance sales people never diminishes, and 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”. Some of your best sales people will come from your personal observation and referrals, but they will require some cultivation, so your priority should be to fill your reservoir with high potential candidates.