In my experience as a sales performance expert, I have learned that mistakes are better teachers than successes. With that in mind, it is my hope that there will be some valuable lessons for you as we review some of the most common mistakes to building a successful sales force:
Salespeople are different. In fact, you, as the manager, owner, or president, want them to be different so they can effectively do their job. Consequently, you must hire them differently.
Do not be so stuck on hiring directly from your industry. Too many hiring managers feel that it will be easier to hire salespeople from the same industry. It may be easier, but make absolutely certain that they are a successful salesperson selling your way. They must have had success in a similar environment, selling to the title of the person you want them to sell to; selling in a consultative fashion if that is called for; selling a higher priced option if you are higher priced, and on and on. Without fail, whenever I ask hiring managers to tell me whether they think it is easier to train someone on their products or services, or whether it is easier to train an industry expert to sell, they always say it is harder to teach someone to sell. And, they are right. Decide to hire the best salesperson that is appropriate for the position first, and then determine if their industry experience will be a benefit.
Second, do not rely on your like/dislike meter, test them. Use objective assessment tools, such as the assessments from Objective Management Group, the pioneer in sales talent assessments, to delve into whether they actually will sell for you before you invest any time meeting with them.
Third, do not interview them…audition them! Put each candidate in the same situation they might find themselves facing with prospects. In the first meeting put them on edge a little so you can gauge their stress meter. This is a good indication of how they will be with difficult prospects. Do not attempt to bond with them. Leave that up to them. See if they can do it. Bonding can come later once you have determined they are the right fit.
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