Building a Professional Sales Team Selecting the Right People
Thursday, August 4th, 2011
In the first article in our series we discussed the importance of defining the role of Professional Sales Person in your organization. This analysis must consider what your clients are looking for in a sales representative. In years past, the sales person was the primary source of information; however, in today’s high tech business environment the client has as much or more information about the product or service options than the sales person. They definitely have more knowledge about their needs and requirements and your competitor’s products/services.
Therefore, sales professionals must not only be knowledgeable about their product and/or service offering but must have the interpersonal communication skills enabling them to engage clients to uncover needs and expectations, and strategically position themselves as a trusted business resource. This requires the capacity to be truly “Customer Focused” and not just “Product Focused.”
Once the job description is developed, the process of selecting the right people begins with your recruiting activities. Recruiting is a continuous process and not just an event that occurs when a sales opening needs to be filled. The same manner in which you market your company to prospective clients must be used to create marketing strategies that establish your competitive brand in the region. The ultimate goal is for you to have potential applicants regularly contacting you because your company is the place to work.
Networking within your industry, as well as in other industries in which you plan to sell, is a great way to further your recruiting strategy. While seeking people with sales experience in your industry is logical, it is not always a successful approach to finding the most productive sales people. If you have created effective orientation and training programs and have a successful sales management structure/system in place, including effectual sales coaching, your networking can be expanded to include candidates that “have the right stuff” but not years of experience. In many cases this is the best way to build a loyal, talented sales team.
The process of actually selecting the right person for the job involves three, well-defined activities:
- Eligibility – involves determining if the individual can do the job. You must consider their past experience, skills and knowledge, previous training received and the level of education achieved. Carefully review the candidate’s resume and don’t accept everything without dissecting the information carefully.
- Suitability – involves determining if the individual will do the job. This is best accomplished by utilizing a validated Behavioral Assessment system that can predict a candidate’s behavior. The assessment should be based on the work environment and should consider the individual’s personal interests. It has been established that people will perform more effectively in a job if they enjoy the required tasks, have a personal interest in the work and the work environment matches their personal preferences. The assessment must also evaluate the traits or behaviors the individual exhibits and these traits should be tied to the essential and desirable traits required. Selecting the right people without determining suitability is extremely costly.
- Interview – The third component of the selection process is the most interactive and requires a significant amount of skill. With information gathered from the eligibility and suitability processes, the interviewer must carefully plan the interview and determine who else should be involved in the process; team interviewing is by far the most effective.
Everyone involved must know the job requirements, review the available information, carefully consider the assessment profile, dig into the resume, and prepare a wide range of questions. The questions should be open ended providing the candidate the opportunity to speak at length, while the interviewer “peels back the onion” one layer at a time. The use of role playing is extremely effective in determining a candidate’s competence. In a matter of a few minutes you can uncover a candidate’s instinctive sales capability.
The process of selecting the right people is a crucial part of Building a Professional Sales Team. As in building of any successful team, selecting the best talent will enable you to achieve your company’s goals.
Key Concepts/Issues for Emphasis
- Sales people must be Customer Focused, not just Product Focused!
- Recruiting is an ongoing process, not just an event. It should be an extension of your Marketing and Branding activities.
- The selection process should include reviewing eligibility, determining suitability and optimizing the interview process.
- You must have a Sales Management Structure/System in place.
- Your organization must have the capacity to coach talented sales professionals without a lot of experience?
In our next article in the series, we will discuss how to design effective training programs so you can get the most out of those talented people.