How to Recruit Great Sales People

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My last post covered tips for recruiting great sales leaders. This time, let’s look at how to recruit the best sales team members.

· Distill your key sales needs. Before you can build the right sales team, you have to understand what your product does, who its buyers are, how they buy, and what benefits it provides to them. In other words, all the fundamentals. This will determine what kinds of salespeople you need — strategic, consultative senior sales execs, or volume-driven phone dialers for dollars, or combo sales/field engineers. Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are buyers of my product needles in a haystack? Rare and hard to find?
  • Are my sales driven by volume contacts and pitches? This would be the case for most SAAS products and all products aimed at smaller businesses.
  • Does my product require complex, multi-touch strategic sales, with significant customization for each client?
  • If I have a consumer product, does the primary revenue come from the consumers or from some third party (i.e. a brand), and, what are the buying characteristics of that third party?

The central thing to keep in mind is that your sales team is a function of your product and your buyers’ needs.

· Make these needs clear in outreach. Your sales outreach should emphasize the type of selling you’re doing and what you expect salespeople to do every day — how you define success. Your outreach should aim as much to discourage response from the wrong kind of salesperson as to encourage response from the right kind.

· Your team is your best recruiting tool. Your team knows your product. Your team knows your culture. Your team knows many people who don’t currently work for you. Involve them deeply in your sales recruiting. Bounties may be part of this, but the involvement really should be about much more — it’s about making everyone part of the organization you’re building together. It’s about pride and mutuality and demonstrated trust by leadership in the smarts of the team. Ask them.

· Your competitors may be your best source. Your competitors can house your best future salespeople. You and your competition are more alike than any other organizations around. You’re like step-siblings. Anyone who can successfully sell that product has the potential to sell yours. Know that team; track it; follow its members online. Who is eager for promotion but won’t get it where they are now? Who seems restless? Who has a spouse that just took a new job, triggering a move?

· Restless buyers could be great prospects. Your strongest customers can be a forge for your next great salespeople, as well. They liked the product, they know the product, they use the product. They may now like your product and culture more than where they work. They can be ferocious advocates for you. Not every customer can sell, but some surely can- always be open to that possibility. Don’t worry that grabbing a customer could harm a revenue relationship. If your customer benefits are real, they’ll endure a defection, and that poached customer could deliver dozens of like-minded revenue producers, rather than representing just one.

Always keep in mind that success in the past is the best predictor of success in the future. Not the only one, but certainly the strongest. Find salespeople who are succeeding in selling products like yours, in a manner like yours, to buyers like yours. Then steal them.

By Managing Partner Mike Edelhart
@MikeEdelhart