Many companies rely on salespeople to drive their growth.
Yet, hiring salespeople and training them can be very difficult.
These candidates are great at selling (and sometimes overselling) themselves.
And being in sales is a challenging job, requiring in-depth training and involving significant rejection and perseverance, which may contribute to at least some recurrent turnover.
But with the right hiring and training tactics, you can get ahead of some of these difficulties and build a sales team that drives growth in your business.
Ahead, let’s explore:
- What traits you should be looking for when hiring salespeople
- An effective recruiting process for your sales roles
- Practical strategies for selecting, onboarding and training your sales team
5 competencies outstanding sales reps have
Stereotypes about salespeople abound, but don’t make the mistake of believing you need to target a certain personality type or background when you’re recruiting for sales.
For example, focusing only on outgoing people or preferring people who played sports will only limit your candidate pool and keep you from focusing on what truly makes a good sales hire.
Instead, you should be looking for:
- A proven history of achievement or high earnings in sales
- The competencies that lead to success in selling your products or services
While these skills will be unique to your industry, company culture and sales format, here are some of the abilities that generally lead to effective selling.
1. Active learning skills
Before hiring salespeople, you’ve likely invested a lot of your time into refining your company’s sales process, developing a selling format that gets results and polishing your training plan for sales.
You’ve made some mistakes and learned from them, and you know what it will take for a new person to win more customers.
That’s why it’s so important to hire sales representatives who show they’re willing to learn about your company and to try new ways of doing things they’ve probably done before.
Look for candidates who demonstrate active learning skills like curiosity and a growth mindset during the recruiting process.
2. “Hunter” sales disposition
Do your candidates have a hunter or gatherer mindset? Meaning, are they willing to generate their own new leads (hunter), or do they expect to receive and close on leads from another source (gatherer)?
Find a hunter who can get his or her own leads, and you’ve found someone with a winning sales disposition.
3. Trust and relationship building skills
In some industries, it’s helpful to look for salespeople who have already built a network for themselves that could help you reach new people.
But even if they can’t tap into an established network when they start working for you, having a network of relationships shows that a candidate is capable of building trust and community – skills that will serve them well in any sales role.
4. Compatible sales approach
While there are many ways to approach a lead and close a sale, you probably have a preferred style or method that you know that works well with your ideal customers.
For example, if you’re a business-to-business (B2B) services firm, you may train your sales team to use a consultative approach. Or maybe you know that hard selling or customer personality selling works best at your company.
Ideally, your new hires will have used a similar approach in past sales positions or can demonstrate their ability to adopt this style of selling after getting hired.
5. Negotiation skills
To close on new business, your sales team needs to be comfortable negotiating with your prospects about the things that typically hold them back from buying your product or service.
Negotiation skills are an essential component of being an outstanding salesperson.
You can draw out evidence of these skills during interviews by asking candidates to walk you through past negotiations (both wins and losses) and by asking how they would handle hypothetical negotiations.
Process for hiring salespeople
Having a set hiring process that you stick to for recruiting new salespeople will help you and everyone involved in the hiring decision stay focused on the key competencies we just covered.
Here’s what your process for hiring salespeople may generally look like from start to finish:
- Advertising your opening
- Initial interview with HR representative or recruiter
- Interview with hiring manager
- Second interview with other stakeholders
- Hiring decision and offer
Four practical strategies to hire sales representatives
Here are some strategies you can incorporate into this hiring process to help you find and screen candidates.
1. Be a candidate “hunter.”
Although the hiring process begins by first advertising your job opening, don’t stop there.
It’s best practice to be a “hunter” and seek out passive candidates who have the experience and industry knowledge you’re looking for rather than just being a “gatherer” of the applications that come in.
2. Conduct structured, behavioral-based interviews.
Consider developing a structured guide for each type of sales interview you will conduct.
These guides should be based on the same key competencies, but feature unique behavioral interview questions, such as:
- What are the traits that characterize successful salespeople?
- Describe the biggest setback you’ve experienced in a sales situation. How did you cope with the disappointment?
3. Make sure you are leading.
Asking great interview questions also helps ensure your interviewers are leading the conversation with sales candidates, who may be inclined to spend a lot of time promoting themselves and steering the discussion.
Structured interviews built on direct, appropriate questions will keep the conversation on track and help you avoid walking away without the information you need to make a good hiring decision.
4. Use assessments as a tool.
There are many sales aptitude assessments available that test for the various sales competencies and tendencies we’ve been discussing.
These assessments are a great way to confirm or sometimes raise red flags about what you’ve already observed about a particular candidate. They’re best used as a tool to help you gain more holistic insight into each person you’re interviewing, not a pass-fail quiz.
Onboarding and training considerations
Ideally, you take all new hires through a structured employee onboarding process that yields them a thorough understanding of their role and empowers them with confidence and clarity.
Onboarding for sales should be consistent with what you do for all employees. However, training new sales hires is job-specific and can be much more in-depth.
Using the advice of your company’s top sellers as well as professional resources, new sales representatives need hands-on training that covers:
- Your products and services
- Your customer profile
- Your organization’s specific sales approach and system
Training helps new sales hires start producing as early as possible, which is a win-win for your company and new recruits alike.
Handling turnover in sales
With as many resources as you put into hiring and training new reps, experiencing sales team turnover can be an especially frustrating HR challenge.
The best way to mitigate the turnover in sales is to learn the reasons why people are leaving and make changes to the process. This allows you to better track, anticipate and hopefully stunt turnover.
Many companies can determine a steady percentage of employees who leave their sales roles, which allows them to view it as expected and normal rather than a constant problem.
With these analytics, you can plan how many salespeople you’ll need over a certain period and hire based on your actual turnover volume.
Summing it all up
Recruiting an outstanding sales force doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems.
Starting with an emphasis on the skills your sales team needs to connect with your customers and drive new business, you can develop a hiring process that delivers consistently reliable new recruits.
For more strategies on building a winning team, download our free e-book: How to develop a top-notch workforce that will accelerate your business.
Movability, Central Texas’ transportation management association, is partnering with the Translational Health Researchers at Texas State University to conduct a region-wide survey about current transportation and travel during the pandemic that will seek to answer the question: if most major employers are supporting remote work, why has traffic increased? Brain + Trust, the survey sponsor, is supplying $50 Favor gift cards, which all survey respondents are entered to receive by completing the survey in its entirety. The survey is now open and will close on March 12.
According to Movability’s own surveys among members, many of the region’s largest employers have not yet brought employees back into an office setting. Yet traffic on highways and local corridors has increased and is creeping back toward its pre-pandemic levels.
Please take a few minutes to complete the survey. The data from the survey will help Movability and regional partners understand current travel and traffic patterns and better plan traffic mitigation strategies. All survey responses are anonymous, and information will be aggregated. Take the survey.
Project Alvarium creates the first Data Confidence Fabric capable of measuring data trust.
(BERLIN, GERMANY — February 9, 2021) IOTA Foundation, a non-profit focused on distributed ledger technology and the machine economy, and Dell Technologies introduce a world-first demonstration that measures the trustworthiness of data. Modern industries often rely on automated decision-making systems for business-critical functions. At a time of vastly increasing data volumes, the trustworthiness of the data that drives these decisions is difficult to assess. Project Alvarium provides a measurable way of evaluating the confidence in data before it is used by an application.
In 2019, Dell Technologies introduced the first Data Confidence Fabric. The Technology was subsequently re-engineered using the IOTA Streams framework, providing increased security and scalability, to guarantee the data trust that is imperative to organizations today.
The system logs different steps in the journey of each data point, as it travels from an edge or IoT device sensor, to a router, to an edge server, and to the cloud. Each interaction is given a trust rating, a score, according to industry-specific requirements. Importantly, these scores are logged on the IOTA Tangle to ensure integrity and prevent tampering.
The upcoming demonstration paves the way for initial integration into hardware or software, and is principally aligned with industries or organizations that require a high level of compliance or supervision. It is an industry proof point that trust on the edge can be measured. Read more to learn how Dell Technologies and Intel plan to leverage DCF in combination with Confidential Computing for privacy-preserving edge deployments. The presence of a Data Confidence Fabric allows for a host of new business opportunities and services. An obvious use case would be any industry that has a high degree of compliance or regulatory demands with fine grained access and revocation controls for sanctioned use, without loss of attribution opportunities.
For real-world scenarios, we need look no further than the global pandemic. It could massively reduce friction if there were a way to measure the trustworthiness of the data involved in the vaccine rollout. Everything from the provenance of which vaccines are coming from which manufacturer, to how many people in which regions are getting the vaccines, could be managed much more effectively if there were a trust certification measurement for all involved actors.
Dell and the IOTA Foundation have joined with Intel in a move to real world pilots and are jointly reaching out to potential partners. “The DCF demonstration by Dell Technologies and IOTA is an important industry proof point in the potential for measuring trust at the Edge, added Paul O’Neill, Senior Director of Strategic Business Development in Intel’s Confidential Computing Group. Intel and Dell Technologies have already published a White Paper on the topic that can be accessed here.”
“We’re coming to a convergence in technologies and a growth in data utilization, but for that to succeed at scale, we need to be able to trust the data that we’re using,” said Dominik Schiener, Co-Founder of the IOTA Foundation.
Smart contracts often rely on services known as “oracles” to provide trustable data. Project Alvarium extends the functionality of a first-party oracle with the added functionality of a confidence score, to create an industrial oracle. Data feeds from these oracles may be used alone or in combination, to feed smart contract applications, driving the next generation of trustable decentralized applications. The oracle providers can be paid for the data feeds using the feeless IOTA protocol.
The IOTA Foundation, Dell, and Intel will demonstrate Project Alvarium, a simulated Data Confidence Fabric, on a public webinar, followed by a question and answer (Q&A) session on February, 24th at 11:00am est.
For more information on testing and technical details on Project Alvarium, please join us for the Q&A session.
About the IOTA Foundation
The IOTA Foundation is a global not-for-profit foundation incorporated and headquartered in Germany. The IOTA Foundation’s mission is to support the research and development of new distributed ledger technologies (DLT), including the IOTA Tangle. The Foundation encourages the education and adoption of distributed ledger technologies through the creation of ecosystems and the standardization of these new protocols.
The IOTA Tangle moves beyond blockchain by providing the world’s first scalable, feeless and fully-decentralized distributed ledger technology. The Tangle uses its own unique technology to solve three fundamental problems with blockchain technology: high fees, scaling and centralization. It is an open-source protocol connecting the human economy with the machine economy by facilitating novel Machine-to-Machine (M2M) interactions, including secure data transfer, fee-less micropayments, and secure access control for devices.
Visit www.iota.org for more information. Follow us on our official channels!
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About Dell Technologies
Dell Technologies is a unique family of businesses that provides the essential infrastructure for organizations to build their digital future, transform IT and protect their most important asset, information. The company services customers of all sizes across 180 countries – ranging from 98% of the Fortune 500 to individual consumers – with the industry’s most comprehensive and innovative portfolio from the edge to the core to the cloud.