Today we’re going to be talking about selling in these current unusual times. What does it take to be a successful salesperson and to have a successful sales organization during these times? I am going to talk about Chapter 9 in a book that we recently published, Agile & Resilient: Sales Leadership for the New Normal by Michelle Richardson and Russ Sharer (it’s a wonderful read).
One of the keys to having a successful sales organization is having successful salespeople.
We often get asked, “Well, what does that mean? How do I hire a successful salesperson?” First off, it is not necessarily somebody with industry experience. That sounds a little controversial at times. When we tell clients that, they want to push back because they want us to understand how unique their selling environment is. And granted, different selling environments do have different needs and requirements, but we don’t believe that industry experience is absolutely critical.
There are some things, however, that we do believe are critical for a salesperson to be successful. I want to talk about those things and create an outline that maybe helps you. You can also check out this whitepaper and this checklist if you want more information.
So, how do you go about hiring successful salespeople?
- Understand the role and the attributes necessary to be successful. You need to break that down. It’s not just about the salesperson – it’s also about what that role looks like. Are they going to be prospecting? Are they going to be account managing? Is it a transactional role? Or is it an ongoing role? Is it a single sale? Or a sale to a single person? Or is it a complex sale that’s going to take some time? When you start to understand those things, it starts to highlight the sort of attributes you’re looking for in a salesperson.
- Consider the behaviors that go along with the role. One is the pace – what’s the frequency of change inside the organization? Again, what’s the complexity of the sale? I was recently doing work with a client, and the pandemic forced them to change their business model. It forced rapid product development, and the President of the company was frustrated that his salespeople weren’t comfortable out there pitching these new things. When we did an analysis of a sales team, we learned that they were resistant to change. They wanted to sell tried and true things, and there was a basic disconnect between the new requirements of the job and the salespeople that they had on staff that were largely hired pre-pandemic.
- Evaluate their ability to build trust. We hear this time and time again, particularly post-pandemic. What does that mean? It means they need to be not only able but willing to meet the buyer where they are. They need to provide good information. They need to be transparent. They need to be proactive, but not pushy. It’s all the sorts of things that will help you build trust with your clients and your potential clients. And one key there is the fourth item I want to talk about…
- Work to understand their level of self-awareness. They need to be conscientious. They need to be confident. They need to be a cultural fit, not only inside your culture, but the culture of the clients that they’re selling into. Oftentimes, we don’t think about that, but you need to think about that they are your representative, but they need to match culturally with your clients in many ways.
- Determine if they are goal oriented. What does that mean? Well, it means that they’re self-monitoring. It means that they are planning, and they are organized. It means that they’re self-directed – that you don’t have to make micromanage them – because they have an inner desire to win. They are motivated to do a good job, and they’re motivated to deliver good things for their clients.
Those are the five things we believe are important when you’re looking for that right salesperson, and when you’re building out a sales team. Now, some of that sounds like soft skills, and they are. The good news is you can measure all these things We have a wonderful tool, The Brooks Talent Index, which does just that – it measures behaviors, motivators, and personal skills. We use those to measure salespeople, but we also have a benchmarking process that goes through and evaluates the jobs on what I just talked about. What does the pace look like? What does the complexity look like? What are the behaviors necessary for it?
We would be happy to share that information with you on that. And if you’re not using us, I would suggest you use somebody. It’s important for you to make good hires. To do that you really need to do a good discovery on the job you’re hiring for and the requirements there, and then match people using science, like an assessment, to get you there. I hope this makes sense. I hope you find some value in it. Always happy to discuss, to debate, or to provide more information. If you’re interested in the book, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.