What makes a good sales representative?
People often ask, “What should I look for when hiring salespeople?”
The questioners are usually looking for a cookie cutter answer, a one-size-fits-all type of answer. There just isn’t one answer for every business or every situation.
Naturally, you want someone with the right background and sales skills. Ideal candidates should also be a cultural match for your work environment. However, there is more to the search than just a specific list of traits.
Take for example the case of the serial entrepreneur with whom I recently worked. She had owned multiple businesses and came to me for help. Her problem, she said, was being unable to find good sales reps. We talked about what she was looking for and reviewed her process for finding the type of salespeople she needed. The process included looking at her criteria for selecting applicants.
Define the Type of Salesperson You Need
As we worked through her process, it seemed she was doing all the right things. Her criteria contained requirements for a specific skill set and a particular background. It sounded good but I needed to dig a little deeper to find out where the problem was.
She really needed a sales rep who could hunt down leads, a good sales “hunter”. Based on her written job description for the sales position, she wasn’t looking for someone who would be a good hunter.
If you need help selecting sales staff, check out this free trial for a leading salesperson assessment tool.
Define Your Sales Process
In her process, one person hunted leads. The lead-finder then turned the leads over to the salesperson – the one she was hiring. In her existing process, the hunter was more like a “fetcher”. The salesperson acted like more of a fetching dog than a hunting dog. In a sense, someone fired the shot and this person had to go out and retrieve it. For her situation, this was not ideal.
Sales Hunting vs. Sales Retrieving
There is a distinct difference between the hunting and the retrieving aspects of a sales position. She had confused these two sales types in her job descriptions. This was the reason she couldn’t find the type of reps she wanted.
While a sales process includes hunting and retrieving, they are different activities. Each activity requires different skill sets to complete the associated tasks.
Need help to define your ideal sales process? Check out this free resource for grading your sales process.
Therefore, we helped her redefine her process and determine the type of sales rep she needed.
We analyzed her criteria and rewrote it so that it made more sense to her. She was able to determine the type of person she was looking for from this exercise.
In her case, she was working in a very specialized industry. We helped her identify the specific traits and qualifications her applicants would need. She could now go to a place like LinkedIn and discuss the position with the right kind of prospective employees.
Hire the Salespeople that Align with your Sales Process
For this client, the process required someone whose sole purpose was to come to work every day and find new people to engage in discussions. Whether it was through emails, cold calling or other techniques, the sales person had to initiate discussions with new prospects. This is not the typical situation for sales staff but we made it work.
I discovered a bit of irony in working with this client. I mentioned earlier that she was a serial entrepreneur. In one of her earlier endeavors years ago, she owned a professional recruiting business. Even though she owned this type of business and was very good at it, she was not exempt from making mistakes in recruiting the kind of salespeople she needed.
When you are in the thick of things on a daily basis, it can be difficult to see clearly. It can be helpful to talk with an outsider, someone who can help you see what you are missing because you are too close to it to see the problem.