When recruiting salespeople your are COMPETING with every other sales opportunity out there.
Recruiting salespeople is harder that selling your product or service. It's an interesting riddle. First, there are a finite number of great salespeople. Second, there's a finite number of great companies. You'd think it would be easy enough to match the two - the problem is that it is not, actually it's quite to the contrary. (For those thinking, "Gee, I don't need a "great" salesperson, good will do," should read this post immediately!)
The signal to noise ratio is off the charts. Far too many companies have been ripped off by hiring inadequate salespeople and far too many quality salespeople have been ripped off by working for companies that don't stack up. The result is that so many barriers have been put up, that it's almost a miracle when the two find each other.
So if you're in the market for a salesperson that can drive results, what should you do?
Most importantly, stop sounding like every other company that treats salespeople like a commodity . For example:
- If you're talking about your product/service as a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity, STOP! Just like my mom told me, "If the opportunity is too good to be true, it probably is." If you're a salesperson who moves the needle you have no shortage of opportunity. Rather than hearing about great vision, amazing technology, unlimited market sizes, etc., quality salespeople want to hear about execution. What are you going to do, how are you going to do it, how can they help?
- Like it or not, quality salespeople have the leverage. There are far more companies looking for quality salespeople than there are quality salespeople. This doesn't mean that you should be stupid in the hiring process, but stop talking to these quality professionals about taking all of the risk. Quality salespeople bring value to the table - and they expect to be paid for it. You wouldn't hire an operations manager on commission only, and you shouldn't hire the person responsible for getting you to the right people, in the right way on 100% commission either.
- Be honest. Quality salespeople can smell bullshit from a mile a way (remember, a key to their success is their ability to separate real opportunities from fake ones). Quality salespeople are not afraid of a challenge. They just want to know that there's a realistic approach backing them up. I remember when I interviewed for a position. They told me how they the "right salesperson" could bring in $3 million in new business. So I asked how much business they were doing. When they told me that they'd been in business for 12 years and were doing $2 million, I knew that was the wrong opportunity for me.
- Talk to any sales consultant and they'll tell you the care and feeding of quality salespeople is a must. Remember, care and feeding begins long before the salesperson starts. Does your website speak to the salesperson? Do you have the tools and process that a quality salesperson can utilize to make their life easier? Do you demonstrate the ability to respond to market feedback, and to adjust as necessary?
- Stop talking about accountability as a one-way street. All executives are really good at telling salespeople whet's expected of them. How much time do you spend talking with salespeople how they can hold you accountable? What can they expect from you?
Remember, the salespeople you want are wanted by just about everyone else out there. You must have a proposition and process that stands out from that competition.
The good news is that so many companies are doing a horrible job at this, that a few changes will help you stand out.