Elite-level sales organizations continually focus on upgrading their sales force. Yet, most struggle with sales hiring. It can be difficult to get elite sales professionals interested in your organization or your open positions.
When recruiting top sales talent, many leaders ask themselves questions like:
- Will our compensation plan be enough to get them to sign?
- Will it incentivize them to perform at their best ability, capability, and capacity?
- How do you identify an “elite-level” sales professional in the first place?
- Are we confusing their experience with their capabilities?
- How can we be sure past success will translate into future success?
Putting in the Sales Hiring Prework
Sales hiring is different and more challenging than hiring for other positions in your organization. The consultants at Lushin are experts at helping our clients attract, hire, and onboard salespeople.
Do you believe your organization deserves the best talent in the market? Do you believe salespeople should be compensated proportionally to the revenue they generate? And lastly, are you committed to training and developing who you hire? If not, you’ll likely struggle with sales hiring and have trouble getting great people on board.
When it comes to sales hiring, it’s so important to not settle for mediocre candidates. The worst possible outcome is not making a bad hire (or no hire at all)—the worst possible outcome is hiring a rockstar salesperson, only to have them leave for another company. Great candidates crave development, want to hit their goals, and of course, want fair compensation.
To hire and keep those rockstar candidates, it’s critical to put in the right sales hiring work upfront, laying the foundation for a smooth process and ensuring you set your new hires up for success.
Nailing the Job Description
Think of your job description as a piece of lead-generating marketing copy. For sales hiring, the job description isn’t the place to tell the story of your founder or recount all the duties and responsibilities of the position. Your job description is there to get top salespeople to apply to the position.
The job description is the place to describe your ideal sales candidate. And the more specific you get, the more high-quality applicants you’ll have.
Assessing Competencies First
Resumes are less relevant than ever, and a salesperson’s previous experience isn’t predictive of whether or not they’ll succeed at your company. Also, just clicking on the resume of an applicant who won’t prospect, can’t prospect, isn’t committed, makes excuses, etc., is a waste of time. This is why, when it comes to sales hiring, you should assess the competencies most predictive of sales success first.
Interviewing successfully may be the most difficult part of the hiring process. However, now that you’re assessing upfront, you’ll know exactly what questions to ask. Early in the interview process, you should determine if the candidate will succeed with your prospects.
Use these questions as a guide:
- Are they compelling enough to command attention?
- Can they quickly develop real business bonding?
- Do they ask questions (or talk too much)?
Later in the process, you should determine if they’ll be a good fit at your company and can succeed with all other role responsibilities.
Compensation and Negotiating the Offer
The golden rule of compensation is that you incentivize for the results you want. Ideally, a sales compensation plan is mostly commission and incentives. You may ask, but what about base salaries and guaranteed money? To that we say, yes, you should offer a base salary—and no, it should not be enough to live comfortably on.
A large amount of guaranteed money does not incentivize performance. And high performers don’t need a lot of guaranteed money. You could, however, offer a larger draw or guarantee out of the gate until your new hires get going.
Sales Hiring FAQs
How do I onboard & ramp up a new salesperson?To successfully onboard a new salesperson, you should have an onboarding plan that includes:
- Weekly sales behavioral plan
- Weekly managerial behavior plan
- A forecast of expected sales behavior (especially prospecting)
- A forecast of a range of expected outcomes
- There should be zero exceptions or excuses for either the manager or the new hire not following the plan.
How do I structure sales compensation?
The golden rule of sales compensation is to compensate for the results you want. The problem with large guaranteed salaries is that a guarantee doesn’t incentivize the employee to do much more than keep their job.
How do we find the right salesperson for the role?Getting talented salespeople in place is key to business success. Here are a few sales hiring rules of thumb:
- You must assess for capabilities
- You shouldn’t confuse previous experience with capabilities
- You should have an interviewing strategy that includes:
- A dive into the resume
- A dive into the sales assessment (especially the gaps and weaknesses)
Most importantly in sales hiring, set a high standard and don’t compromise on it.