Recruiting salespeople is expensive, it is around £22,000 or $40,000 plus time and effort which I certainly do not underestimate. For this reason, it is vital to secure your investment by ensuring a robust plan that will not only help you to recruit the right people but to retain them, develop them and gain the optimum return from them. If you hire or are thinking of hiring salespeople, please do read this.
Here are some tips for recruiting to retain.
1. Hire on Measurable Skills.
Too many sales managers have told me that they have regretted hiring someone into the sales role. I know that no sales manager would hire a salesperson unless they thought they would be great at the job. When I ask the manager why they hired those people in the first place, their response is often something like this. "Well, the candidate said they have great relationships with their customers, and so they can bring lots of those accounts over to us" There are a couple of things wrong with this statement. 'Great Relationships' is not tangible. It is simply not a measurable skill. It is the result of the effective application of skill. So if a potential recruit uses this to explain their value to you, as the recruiting officer, your job is to determine what that person did to forge such great relationships. Challenge them to explain what they think is the key to building a great relationship. Please do not accept a non-tangible gloat and make it the reason you hired a salesperson. Also, in this example, the candidate tells the manager they can bring new accounts over.
We all know that this can be an empty promise and should not influence your recruit's decision. Again, it would help if you challenged on this. I would ask the candidate why those customers would stay loyal to the salesperson rather than the supplier outfit. The types of skills you want to measure should all be related to the KPI's that you use to measure results, such as Cold Calling Skills, Closing Skills, Negotiations, and Objections Handling. There are questions types and training courses that you can take to improve your interviewing techniques. We have run very successful bespoke programs for sales managers many times, and it is amazing the impact this has on the overall productivity, costs, and retention.
2. Know What you are Looking.
Make sure that you don't seek a clone of yourself or any team member. I mean know the credentials required to fulfil the job and understand the priority you would like your candidates to possess each skill set. You may have already carried out such an exercise for the Job Description (JD). Please check that any JD's you wish to reuse are updated to reflect updated skills required. For example, you might have changed your CRM system recently, in which case you might want to include 'experience using the system'. From the JD, you will have identified the critical skills required to carry out the role successfully. From this list, identify the order of importance of each skill on the position. Then prepare questions that will help you to measure your candidates’ level of abilities for each. This assessment, coupled with any other qualities you see in the candidate, can help you eliminate regret hires. I have written an article called 'Tomorrows Salesperson' I wrote it last year with foresight for the new normal. It might help you to consider additional sales skills required in today's climate.
3.Have a robust induction plan.
A good induction plan is vital to staff retention and a sure way to secure your investment in any new hire. Once you have decided upon a candidate, you should follow with a seamless introduction for them. I have designed and delivered many new Induction programs for organisations large and small. The one thing I never tire of hearing is how appreciative the inductees are of the time invested in them at the start of their new role. However, don't let me mislead you. A good start should not end abruptly, or you will find a delayed negative impact on the inductee's performance. For example, some companies put a period on induction which might be as short as a week, and I think that might be because of misunderstanding what an 'induction is and it's full purpose. An induction is the transition time required to make sure a candidate is confident and able to perform at a level of competency required by all team members. Meaning the time needed until you can measure their performance in direct comparison with their peers. In my experience, this is a six-month period made up of skills and knowledge courses, manager coaching, peers support and self-development. It would also be best if you never relied on a new hire's prior experience to omit parts of your induction. You should still provide all aspects of the program because you never know how much they know or what level of development they have had previously. Also, where the inductions are group sessions, an experienced person input is extremely valuable to those with little or no sales experience. It also allows them to bond with others in the business creating a more comfortable transition. Here is what your induction should include.
Once your recruit is ready to perform and be measured equally with their peers, you can challenge and develop them effectively with further training resources.
If you would like any help with any aspect of the content above, contact me to chat about a bespoke approach.
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