Hiring a winning sales team

Most sales leaders and executives I talk to spend a lot of time recruiting and hiring. Consistent and quality hiring is the ?rst step in achieving sales results. When they’re recruiting, they’re looking for proven success, market or product knowledge, good sales skills and relationships that can be leveraged in a new role. It’s hard work. Like the executives we meet with, I also spend a lot of time hiring and recruiting sales people. Here’s what’s worked for me:

A little help from my friends – Rather than meeting strangers, evaluating them, and then checking their references, why not reverse it for ef?ciency. Work extra hard on seeking out only sales people who have relationships with people you already call colleagues. Almost 100% of my best hires have come from a referral of someone else I worked with or with whom I had strong business relationship. That may seem easier said than done, but there are things that make it easier. Winners know winners, and starting with a small top grade team, rather than a larger mediocre, one will provide you with many more quality referred candidates over time. And those you already work with are far less likely to send you people who aren’t a ?t or won’t perform.

Thinking for myself – I try to be very, very clear on who we’re trying to hire. Helping those you work with identify very clearly the qualities, backgrounds, and example histories you are looking for will jog people’s memory. If you asked someone to list all of the people they know you would end up with them remembering a fraction of who they actually know. Even systems like Facebook or LinkedIn have only a fraction of the relationships inventoried for the average person. It’s far too easy to put in a reward program, post up a job, and expect others to do the thinking for us. Do your own research about who people know and be very precise with examples of backgrounds, companies, and qualities that stand out to you. This makes your coworker’s job much easier when trying to remember and identify potential candidates.

Save the environment – Successful and happy sales people bring in more successful sales people. Attracting the best sales team means creating an environment where sales love to work. Setting goals that the team can achieve, giving people the support and tools that they need and eliminating the negative energy and people creates an environment where buzz will generate inbound candidate leads. You only need to look to Facebook, Apple, or Google to see the buzz that can generate the self ful?lling prophecy of attracting more and more top talent. There are far too many examples we read of companies starting to ?ourish and then cranking up quotas to the point where nobody makes them and talent quickly drains away.

I’ve had good results by using these strategies. Sales are among the most important hires we make in our business. When I use relationships, referrals and research we get the best candidates. Setting up our team for success continues the ?ow of great sales referrals as we grow the team.

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