Attract Top Talent by Preparing Ahead of the Interview

Most people heading to a job interview know that preparation is critical to make a good impression and increase the chance of getting a good offer. Because of this, candidates take time to ensure they are ready, doing research on the company and devising answers to potential questions. On the flip side, interviewers within an organization should also take time to prepare to interview a prospective hire.

Qualified candidates can be difficult to find. You don’t want to squander an opportunity to make a good hire by not being prepared or not making a good impression during the interview. Hiring managers need to understand the stakes are high, particularly in revenue-generating sales positions. Ultimately, time and money are wasted if you struggle to hire qualified candidates due to poor interviewing or a bad offer.

Start with a Clear Description

A critical element that is often overlooked in the small to medium sized business market is that job descriptions and duties may not be clearly documented and well understood across both sides of the interview table. Likewise, in a larger corporate environment, the HR department may not fully understand the details of the position, so specifics get lost in translation.

Data has proven the correlation between poorly written job descriptions and higher turnover. This can easily stem from mutual frustration at expectations not being met by employers or their new hires. To attract “A players,” a hiring manager must have a detailed job description that clearly identifies job duties, scope of work, and expectations.

Ask Questions and Actively Listen to the Answers

Once you have a solid job description written, strategically think about the qualifications necessary to fulfill the role. Use this information to create questions that go below the surface. Questions should vary from position to position within an organization because the qualifications for roles are different.

Don’t focus on their past experience or other information that can be gleaned from their resume; aim to dig deeper.

Here are some example questions to use as a framework to help you dig deeper when talking with a potential candidate:

  • What are some obstacles you have been able to overcome?
  • Can you succinctly describe a complex issue that you are knowledgeable about?
  • How does this position fit into your long-term career goals?
  • What mistakes have you made and what did were lessons learned from these experiences?
  • How do you handle conflict within your team or with a client?
  • Can you share an example of a work success that demonstrates teamwork and group interaction?

The ultimate goal is to gain a sense of the traits of the candidates including what drives and motivates them through their answers to the questions related to the position. Industry knowledge can be taught, and candidate mindset is a better indicator of success.

Download our free guide, A Simpler Way to Recruit and Hire Top Sales Talent, to get started on the path to finding your next top performer.

Five Mistakes That Keep You From Finding the Best Salesperson

Assembling the best possible sales team can be a gamechanger for your business. But like most things in life, it doesn’t just happen. Locating, recruiting, and hiring top sales talent requires planning, ingenuity, expertise, and focused action. To thrive in competitive hiring markets, you need to create a value proposition that attracts highly qualified sales candidates. Bear in mind, though: Your company is not the only one out there looking.

So what can you do to give yourself the proverbial leg up on the competition and guarantee that you will successfully identify and attract the best sales talent? Start by avoiding these common pitfalls that keep businesses from hiring the optimal candidate.

Mistake # 1 Your Ideal Candidate Profile is Unclear

Can candidates easily decipher what qualities, experience, aptitudes, attitudes, and skillsets are required to be successful in the role? If not, you may waste time talking to the wrong candidates, leading to frustration on both sides of the table. Writing an effective ideal candidate profile for a sales position is critical.

Additionally, the scope of the position should concisely indicate what an employee is responsible for in their role, as well as the nature of the work environment. While clearly outlining desired traits and responsibilities won’t alone enable you to hire the best salesperson, it will help you build a stellar candidate pool.

Mistake # 2 Your Company Brand is Weak

Strong companies understand that branding goes hand in hand with creating a good company culture, so remember that your company brand needs to be more than simply creating an appealing footprint for clients. Cultivate a positive culture that is reflected throughout your brand. Doing so will reduce turnover by creating happier salespeople. And happy employees are not only more likely to remain with your company longer; they are more productive and tend to create more positive experiences for your clients. In short, a strong brand creates a win-win situation. You get more qualified sales candidates who will perform better for a longer period of time.

But managing your brand goes beyond what happens inside the walls of the company. Sites such as Yelp, Facebook, and Glassdoor allow people to post employment feedback about your company, including management style, benefits, and compensation. If a revolving door of salespeople is reflected in the form of negative reviews, potential employees may not consider your company a good place to work.

Mistake # 3 You Are Valuing the Wrong Skills – or Ignoring the Right Ones

While technical skills are important to employee success, soft skills are equally critical. Mindset accounts for 80% of success whereas skillset makes up the other 20%. Obviously, this does not mean every potential sales hire has to be a happy-go-lucky ball of sunshine. But it does mean a candidate’s personality and mindset play roles in who will be a good fit, so keep those things in mind during the interview. Also, valuing interpersonal skills such as conflict resolution or emotional intelligence can play a vital role in finding the right candidates.

Taking into account how a potential hire will work within your organization is vital. Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your current sales team also enables you to identify your needs and find the best fit. The right candidate needs personality and/or character traits that match the demands of the job.

Mistake # 4 Your Interview is Ineffective

An old computer programming phrase can easily be applied to interviewing candidates: garbage in, garbage out. It means that concentrating on the wrong data will lead to the wrong results. The interview process for sales jobs can be easily sabotaged by underprepared, distracted, careless, or indifferent interviewers.

The best way to gauge a candidate’s aptitudes, qualifications, and skills is to use behavior-based testing alongside insightful questions designed to measure core competencies. Far too many sales managers believe they can pick good candidates based on their gut feelings, and unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

Mistake # 5 Your Sales Hiring Process Prevents Retention

Hiring and retention are really two sides of the same coin. Paying attention to one without also taking care of the other is like sailing in a leaking boat: No matter how much you bail out the water, the situation will not improve until you find and fix the leak that is causing the problem. For your hiring process, the first step in “fixing the leak” is to improve employee retention, and it needs to start even before your new hire does. A comprehensive and well-designed onboarding plan helps new employees know what to expect and prepares them to hit the ground running. It sets clear expectations, provides necessary information and training, and helps them to forge relationships within your company, ultimately improving company culture.

Another simple way to “fix the leak” and invest in your company culture is to survey your employees to create mutually beneficial solutions. Cultivating a company culture that focuses on making everyone feel valued and empowered can dramatically improve morale, productivity, and employee turnover rates.

Hiring the best salesperson for your team does not happen by accident. It is a deliberate process that requires attention, ingenuity, and planning. Avoiding these common mistakes is just the first step in building the best possible sales team to drive your revenue. Download our free ebook, How to Recruit, Hire, and Onboard Top Sales Performers, to get started on the path to finding your next top performer.

Your Most Valuable Resource: The Right People in the Right Positions

Business leaders are fond of saying, “People are your most valuable resource.” It is one of those generic, feel-good statements that seems like the right thing to say, but is it accurate? What if you have employees in positions performing work that they are not particularly good at? Maybe a more precise statement would be “The right people in the right positions are your most valuable resource.”

Sales is the engine of your company, powering the revenue generation you are aiming to achieve. And for engines to generate maximum horsepower, all pistons need to be firing. Carefully recruiting the best talent for your sales organization is a vital step to ensuring maximum sales performance. To do this properly, start with a clear understanding of how you are going to execute your revenue generation strategy so you know exactly what type of sales role needs to be filled. Is your strategy to seek out new clients to expand your customer base? Or is it to grow existing client revenue by selling deeper into your product or service portfolio? The path you take plays a big role in defining the type of seller you will be looking to hire. Typically, a business development salesperson will be a hunter, while a revenue expansion salesperson will be a farmer. Rarely is a person a combination of both as their characteristics are quite different:

  • Sales Hunter: A salesperson who seeks out new opportunities, often utilizes a consultative sales approach, and innately finds and assesses an opportunity within a prospect. Common traits include being innovative, motivating, excellent with communication skills, and assertive.
  • Sales Farmer: A salesperson who builds and cultivates relationships and opportunities, typically within existing accounts. Common traits include being likeable and caring, a good team member, empathetic to needs of others, and detailed oriented.

But ensuring you have the right talent does not end once the hiring process is completed. Just as important is for sales leaders to observe their salespeople in action, to watch them interact with prospects and clients. How well do they make personal connections? Are they communicating your value proposition in a compelling manner? Do they need further sales training to better fine-tune their selling skills? While this may seem obvious, a survey conducted by Sales Xceleration, a national provider of Outsourced VP of Sales services, found that only 50% of companies have had someone travel with their salespeople in the past 12 months. Yes, this requires a significant investment in time, but high performing sales teams are led by sales leaders who truly recognize the value in force multiplication, and for that to occur you must have the right people in the right positions.

 

Improving Your Sales Recruitment and Hiring Process

You have completed your sales hiring process: waded through the sea of resumes, conducted interviews, and finally have your new salesperson in place. Time for them to begin driving revenue for your business, right? Hopefully. But it can be difficult to know if the person you have selected from the candidate pool will meet your sales expectations. And if that pool didn’t include the highest-level talent, you were behind before you even began. How can you be sure that your new sales hire was the top talent available? Your process for recruiting and hiring salespeople is pivotal in answering that question.

Time, Time, Time

Every minute that a sales position is unfilled represents lost revenue, and for that reason you need to fill roles quickly. But often, an extensive (time-consuming) search is needed to find the candidates with the most performance power. Sorting through online databases of resumes can be a dead end and presents an incomplete picture of potential hires. Likewise, online job listings acquire the good, the bad, and the unqualified. Often, the best talent is already taken and reaching them with your opportunity can present a challenge. But finding the time to gather the best possible candidate pool is the first step in hiring sales leaders and salespeople.

Because of the time needed to accomplish this, many businesses turn to recruiting agencies to be their eyes and ears. Outsourcing the recruiting process takes you out of this first step entirely, filtering out potential hires that might be underqualified or an otherwise bad fit for your organization.

The Network

Taking the time to gather candidates also means working your network to find the best possible leads. This is another step in the hiring process that can benefit from utilizing a sales recruiting firm. Recruiting firms expand your network exponentially. No matter how many connections you may have on LinkedIn, they have more. Their only job is to identify leaders in their industry and connect the right people with the right opportunities. A good sales recruiting firm will take the time upfront to gain an in-depth understanding of the position you are looking to fill, and vet candidates from their network to greatly widen your reach.

In Your Corner

In order to find the best sales talent, you need to have someone working with your interests in mind who can focus on only one thing: finding the best possible person for the job. Compare this with expecting in-house personnel to handle the hiring process across departments or in addition to managing their own responsibilities. Smaller businesses may find that they lack the necessary skillset to identify candidates that will generate revenue. Seeking the knowledge and experience of a specialized sales recruiting firm can eliminate this issue and free up company time to concentrate on other objectives.

The best way to guarantee that you select the highest performing sales hires is to have an effective sales recruiting and hiring process in place. Improving that process starts with partnering with a proven sales recruiting agency.

Follow these Five Steps to Hiring the Right Salesperson to set your company up for more revenue generation or contact us to learn more about our recruiting solutions.


 

How Firing Your Top Salesperson Might Fire Up Overall Sales Performance?

It might seem like a classic case of “biting the hand that feeds you,” but believe it or not, your best move – for the good of your sales team and your entire organization – might be to fire your top sales rep. What? Cut loose the one person who brings your company the most revenue? That’s crazy! And yet, if your strongest salesperson is also your team’s weakest link, it might be your best, or even your only, logical move. Here’s why:

There’s No “I” in Team

Every dysfunctional team has at least one “problem child” – someone who defies the team culture and holds tight to their “me first” attitude. Sometimes, this is the same person who closes the most deals and brings in the top sales revenue quarter after quarter. But is that person also sowing such discord that the rest of your team suffers? Do they incite an “us versus them” mindset that keeps your sales team from reaching its potential? It’s certainly possible, and taking a hard course of corrective action is not as uncommon as you might think.

In fact, a recent Aberdeen Group research study of more than 240 sales organizations revealed that “best-in-class” companies are 36% more likely (60% vs. 44%) than other organizations to terminate a top performer due to non-sales issues. What’s more, 54% (vs. a 29% industry average) of these companies base part of the salesperson’s financial compensation on behavioral components.  

Recognizing a Disruptive Influence

The “problem child” salesperson is typically a rule breaker: someone who thinks rules exist only to keep others in line. But your sales processes are a set of rules. Aren’t your procedures necessary to make sales manageable and trackable and repeatable? And what about your CRM? Your rule breaker may defy loading data into your tracking system to improve your sales operation. What kind of example does that set for others?

Your disruptive sales leader might also be a lone wolf. This is someone who doesn’t play nice with others. One who looks out only for their own interests and looks for ways to boost their sales, even at the expense of achieving overall team sales goals.

Worse yet, this person also is most likely an egotist – a prima donna with a sense of entitlement. Someone with a supercharged ego and an inflated view of their own importance who believes they don’t have to be part of a team as long as they lead the team in sales.

Tolerating the bad behaviors of a rule-breaking, lone wolf, egotistical salesperson – even your top salesperson – tells your sales team that short-term individual results matter more than long-term cohesion and big-picture team performance.

Cutting the Cord and Finding High-Quality Sales Candidates

So, what can you do if you find your sales team’s culture has become intolerably dysfunctional due to a disruptive top performing salesperson? If you’ve tried corrective action and decided that behavioral issues cannot be tolerated even if sales results are good, it’s probably time to cut the cord and terminate your top salesperson.

The good news is that you might not have to take as much of a “hit” to your sales results as you think. This is for two reasons: first, your other sales team members will probably perform better once the disruptive outlier is gone; second, you can likely recruit a top sales performer quickly and easily by using a dedicated sales talent acquisition resource.

At Breakaway Sales Recruiting, for example, we place sales candidates that deliver revenue results. Guaranteed.

Your Breakaway talent manager works with your Outsourced VP of Sales to help you determine what type of sales performer will benefit your organization. Breakaway makes finding high-quality sales candidates easier by utilizing an in-depth process guided by a dedicated talent manager. That manager works with your organization and your Outsourced VP of Sales to profile the ideal candidate profile to provide the right fit for your team.

Your dedicated talent manager will then spend up to 2 hours with each candidate conducting a customized behavioral assessment to reveal both their behavioral profile and sales skillset, including simulation evaluations of key components of the position. In other words, we can identify behavioral red flags (the rule breaker, lone wolf or egoist, for example) before they impact your sales team culture.

Breakaway provides three qualified candidates per position and does so within a few weeks of receiving the request. And we don’t confine our search to candidates who are actively pursuing open positions; rather, we also seek out top sales talent that are currently employed. By going deeper than traditional sales recruiting, we factor in experience, qualifications, team chemistry and many other critical components – all while taking the burden of recruiting off you and your team.

So, what was that guarantee all about? We guarantee you will make a hire and if, for any reason, that hire is not still with your organization in 90 days, the candidate is replaced for free.

So, don’t tolerate a bad influence on your sales organization just because you fear the short-term impact of your top performer’s lost sales. Take the longer view and recruit another top salesperson who is also a team player.

To learn more about Breakaway Sales Recruiting, contact us today at (844) 874-7253

Hiring a Sales Team? The Dos and Don’ts of Finding the Right Candidates

Sales success begins with successful salespeople – usually a team of high-quality, skilled sales performers. What’s the best way to build such a team? Probably not the way you might imagine. Let’s explore one wrong way to build a top-quality sales team and two better ways:

The Wrong Way to Find High-Quality Sales Candidates

Before you fill an open sales position, you first need a good slate of sales candidates. Typically, you might post the position on Web job boards or even run an ad in the newspaper – both print and online. It might even seem as if the postings work because you receive a flood of resumes. Surely somewhere in this slush pile, your ideal salesperson is waiting, right? Well, let’s just say it’s called a slush pile for a reason.

Nonetheless, you forge ahead and identify a handful of potentially good prospects. Hopes are high as you begin interviewing. Then reality hits. One after another, you realize these sales candidates all miss the mark. Some come close, but still, you were hoping for better, weren’t you?

What happened? What went wrong. Why was your approach to filling an open sales position off target?

Simply put, your aim was bad. You may have prepared well – you probably compared base pay against your competitors and maybe you even fine-tuned your company’s sales compensation plan, including commissions and sales incentives. Ultimately, you hyper-focused on quantifiable experience and definable skills. You depended on bullet points and numbers to make your decision for you. But in the end, your top candidates are marginal at best.

Why? Because you ignored the one thing that can make or break a successful sales culture: team chemistry.

Better Sales Recruiting Through a Better Culture Fit

How do you factor sales team chemistry into your sales talent acquisition process? First, go beyond functional basics. Be aware of the interpersonal dynamics of your overall corporate culture and the organizational personality of your team. But don’t stop there. Consider also the buying characteristics and personas of your customers. After all, your ideal salesperson must operate in both internal and external environments.

Once you shift your focus toward how your people should interact and engage, you can finally picture your ideal salesperson in terms of personality, behavioral style and professional demeanor.

Start with this question: “What kind of person – what kind of personality – will succeed as a key contributor to our sales team AND as a trusted sales resource in our industry and markets?” Use that answer, that mental image, to refine your recruiting methods and materials – especially your interview questions. Then, use the interview session less as a means of validating qualifications and more as a method to determine whether the sales candidate will be a good fit in anticipated interpersonal relationships.

Better Sales Recruiting Through Outsourcing

Another way to improve your sales recruiting and find more high-quality sales candidates is by outsourcing the recruiting function. Why outsource sales recruiting? Dedicated sales recruiting professionals can make the process easier, faster, and less time-consuming. They can save time not only during the sales recruiting process itself, but during the sales candidate selection phase, too. Better yet, a dedicated sales recruiting consultant can help minimize bad hires and time wasted in onboarding the wrong employees.

At Breakaway Sales Recruiting, for example, we place sales candidates that deliver revenue results. Guaranteed.

Your Breakaway talent manager works with your Outsourced VP of Sales to guide you in determining what type of individual will benefit your organization. What’s the guarantee? Simply this: We guarantee you will make a hire and if, for any reason, that hire is not still with your organization in 90 days, the candidate is replaced for free.

Why the guarantee? Why the confidence? Because Breakaway utilizes an in-depth process and provides each client with a dedicated talent manager. That manager works with your organization and your Outsourced VP of Sales to create the ideal candidate profile. The talent manager will also interview top sales performers within your organization to create a baseline for finding similar candidates.

Your dedicated talent resource will spend up to 2 hours with each candidate conducting a customized behavioral assessment to reveal both their behavioral profile and sales skillset, including simulation evaluations of key components of the position. Additionally, Breakaway provides three qualified candidates per position and does so within a few weeks of receiving the request.

What’s more, we go beyond the pool of candidates actively pursuing open positions; our focus is to seek out top sales talent currently employed. This is likely sales talent you were not able to tap into using your normal internal recruiting efforts. In other words, Breakaway Sales Recruiting goes deeper than standard sales recruiting. We factor in experience, qualifications, team chemistry and many other critical factors – all while taking the burden of recruiting off you and your team.

To learn more about Breakaway Sales Recruiting, contact us today at 844.874.7253.