We need to grow sales, which means increasing the number of people we have calling on potential business opportunities. Unfortunately we can’t get people to come in to interview for sales positions. How are we going to grow if we can’t find the people we need to help us get there?

 

Thoughts of the Day: If you can’t find it, build it. Look further afield for candidates. Map out a process that anyone can follow. Build a profile of who you’re looking for.

Always be looking. Get expert help.

Develop existing employees. Start with people who know what you do. Give them time to meet with your best customers. Ask them to report back on why your company is so important to the clients it serves. Help them to build confidence talking to other companies by giving them warm leads to follow up on. Closely monitor their progress, giving encouragement and appreciation every step of the way.

Consider candidates outside the company who have demonstrated success in sales, even if it isn’t in your field of work. Sales skills are transferable if you provide technical back up to answer more in-depth inquiries. Look for high energy people who like meeting and learning about other people, love overcoming challenges, are inclined to take charge, get excited by making deals and have the brains and inclination to figure out how to solve problems.

Build a marketing and sales process that stretches from creating a list of suspects to closing a deal. Model what your most successful sales people do. Define how prospects progress from one sales stage to the next. Document the tools used along the way, including phone and in-person scripts, letters, emails, and proposals. Set up a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that mirrors the sales process, so that you and your emerging sales team can track prospects’ progress as they travel through the sales funnel.

Build a picture of what the right candidates look like.

As you experiment with different sales candidates, keep notes on who is and who isn’t successful. Try using various profiling tests to identify attributes that lead to success. Think about pools that good candidates might be swimming in, where you can cast a net and bring up several opportunities at once.

Decide if you’re better off recruiting people who are right out of school, or looking for candidates with some work experience. Define the basic experiences you’re looking for. For example, if you’re looking for candidates who have played college and high school sports, figure out if you want people with group or individual competition backgrounds. Which degrees lead to success?

If you want people with work experience, think about what departments are most likely to prepare them for transitioning into sales. Think in terms of communication, outwardly facing, people and problem solving skills. Look for bright, alert, self-motivated, ready for action candidates.

Keep the search on, even when you don’t actually need someone.

Candidates are out there, and your chances of finding good ones go up the more you look. If you find someone and you’re not ready to hire decide if you make room anyway, or offer to mentor in order to stay in touch until you are ready to hire.

Consider bringing on search assistance. It’s hard sourcing and weeding through piles of candidates. Yes, it will cost you money, but so will not having someone qualified on board to work in sales when you need them. Ask for references and look for firms that have a track record of delivering qualified candidates that match the employer’s specs.

Looking for a good book?

Try: “42 Rules for Building a High-Velocity Inside Sales Team: Actionable Guide to Creating Inside Sales Teams That Deliver Quantum Results”, by Lori L. Harmon and Debbie S. Funk.

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