Hiring salespeople is like major surgery – it is best to get a second opinion before going under the knife. You wouldn’t trust someone with your life on an operating table without doing your due diligence; nor should you trust someone with your business without sending them through a rigorous interview process.
Hiring the right person can be one of the most crucial decisions you make. When done right, it will most certainly impact your organization’s culture, drive considerable revenue growth, and fulfill a function within your organization that was significantly untapped. When done wrong, you risk exposing the business to a considerable disruption, draining you and your team’s time and resources, and placing your reputation with clients in jeopardy.
You are trusting both your business and the opportunity to be a part of your dream to someone you have probably only spent a few hours getting to know and who for the most part looks good on paper. When was the last time you put your life or even your child’s life in the hands of someone you hardly knew?
Like with major surgery, you should always consider getting a second opinion before hiring someone. If the candidate is as great as you think they are, they will pass through with flying colors. If red flags are uncovered then you may have saved yourself considerable time, money, and disruption to your business.
A Bad Hire is a Liability
The financial risks of a bad hiring decision are considerable. If you add up the time spent interviewing –about $1,500 to $2,000 minimum per candidate that you don’t hire – double that for the candidate who advances to the final round, throw in training costs, your additional time, your team’s time, the salary you are forking out prior to them making their first sale (on average at least 2 to 3 months), and any fees if you used a recruiter, even for an entry level sales rep, you are looking at risking up to 30K if your new hire doesn’t last 6 months.
When was the last time your doctor told you needed a procedure that would cost you $30K out of pocket, which may or may not work, and you were jumping to write the check?
Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly
We always advocate hiring slowly and firing quickly, but we also understand that in today’s fast paced business environment most companies don’t have the luxury of dragging out the hiring process. One way that we at CFS help our clients work around this obstacle is by acting as advisors during the hiring process. We offer advice during the interview process and provide highly objective and quantifiable assessments of prospective hires.
Through this step our clients rely on us for a second opinion when hiring a salesperson to minimize the risk of hiring the wrong person. We provide valuable perspective into hiring a salesperson that fits their culture and offer insights into the selling and communication style of the candidate. This is accomplished through our online assessments and in-person, phone, or Skype interviews.
I’m not talking about asking someone else for a gut feel, I’m talking about an objective assessment across 15 attributes, with a weighted scale in each category, observations during the interview and recommendation on next steps such as “do not hire,” “proceed with caution – delve into red flags,” and “you’d be crazy to pass up this hunter.”
Develop the Sales Process, then Hire into that Process
We also highly recommend against the frequent mistake of hiring a salesperson and trusting them to develop their own sales process. Time and time again we see companies come across a great salesperson that is a go-getter, has had documented success, and is well recommended. They then trust that individual to define their own key performance indicators and how they will be tracked.
No offense, but usually when a sales person is given free rein, they will quite naturally design an environment that is in their best interest and not necessarily in the best interest of the company. Let’s face it, if you ask a salesperson if they like rules and tracking, they will usually say no. But salespeople tend to be competitive and like to play the game. When they know where the edges of the sandbox are, they will be creative in their approach and learn to maximize every square inch of the playing field to score the most points.
Your primary objective is to establish the expectations and parameters that will motivate a certain set of behaviors from day one. If the salesperson is left to his own devices, he will inevitably flounder and resort to bad habits. If, however, he is provided the opportunity to play the game in which he can thrive, he’ll be off to a running start and will have the confidence and support to do what he needs to do to succeed.
Therefore, we recommend developing a sales process, defining objectives – weekly, monthly, and quarterly sales targets – and establishing the key performance indicators you will be tracking at all times. Once you establish these parameters, you can search for the right salesperson who you think will not only be able to figure it out on the job but also fulfill the documented requirements of the position.
10 Key Considerations:
- If I make a mistake and hire the wrong person, what will be the financial impact to the business? How much money will I lose? How much can I afford to lose?
- Am I ready or is the business ready to hire a salesperson?
- What processes do I have in place to ensure that the salesperson hits the ground running?
- Have I developed a sales process, defined objectives, weekly, monthly, quarterly sales targets, and established the key performance indicators and how will I track them?
- Have I created a commission plan that motivates the desired behaviors?
- Have I developed a two week comprehensive ramp plan?
- How will I support the salesperson during their ramp plan and will I have the time?
- How will I objectively evaluate the potential hire to identify if they are a hunter?
- Who should be involved in the hiring process? Who can provide a second opinion?
- Will I need to enlist the help of outside help in designing the sales process, creating a commission plan, interviewing assessments, and any on-boarding training and support?